After Amir grows up and making a daring and dangerous escape from Afghanistan with his father, they grow close; first as they struggle to survive in their new home in California and then as Amir has to deal with Baba's illness and death from cancer.
Fighter kites are kites used for the sport of kite fighting. Traditionally most are small, unstable single line flat kites where line tension alone is used for control, and an abrasive line is used to cut down other kites.
Kite fighting is done in many countries, but is particularly associated with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Vietnam, Korea and the slums of Brazil.
In most traditional fighter kite manufacture, the skins of kites are made from a lightweight thin paper and the spars are usually made from a lightweight and flexible wood, usually bamboo.
In modern American fighters, the kite skins are made from a variety of synthetic materials – mylar, aircraft insulation (orcon or insulfab), nylon, and polyester sheeting. The spine may still be bamboo, but often along with the bow is constructed of fiberglass or carbon fiber.
Historically, for most Asian type fighters, a thin cotton or hemp line is coated with a mixture of finely crushed glass and rice glue. In recent years, synthetic line has been coated with a variety of abrasives and stronger glue. Also, there have been some reports of metallic line being used. Some cultures use line that has metal knives attached to hook and cut the opponent's line.
Traditionally, players use a paste of some sort to toughen their line. The primary components of this include glue and crushed glass, but depending on personal preference other materials are added to improve the properties of the line.
In line touch competition, synthetic braided fishing line, 15 to 20 lb test, is used due to its low stretch and high strength for the line diameter and weight. Waxed cotton, linen line or Latex can also be used.
Bridle position, spine curve, center of gravity, and balance of tension on the spars all play a role in how the kite spins and tracks. Afghan and Indian fighter kites and their variants have their bridles attached in two places on the kites spine. The first place is at the crossing of the bow and the spine. The second attachment is three quarters to two thirds of the total length of the spine from the nose of the kite. The length of the top line to the tow point is the length between the two bridle to spine connection points. The length of the bottom bridle to the tow point is between half an inch to two inches (1.2-5 cm) longer than the length of the two spine connections. The spine of the kite has a slight convex curve toward the face of the kite. To make the kite spin more, the upper bridle line is shortened: to make the kite spin less, the lower bridle line is shortened . Left and right tracking are adjusted by either placing weight on the tip of a wing, or by weakening the bow on the side that you want the kite to track towards. The design of the kite plays a role in the tendency for the kite to spin and pull, and how much wind the kite can handle. Bridling and tuning are only effective when the kite chosen is able to handle the amount of wind that it is being flown in. If the wind is so strong that the spine and bow are severely distorted, no amount of bridle tuning will help with making the kite controllable. A crude method of making a kite flyable in over-strong wind, used in India where the kites are cheap and regarded as disposable, is to burn small holes in the flying surface, typically using a cigarette.
When the kite is flown with the line taut, the kite is deformed by the wind pressure, giving it a degree of stability. When the line tension is reduced, either by letting out more line or by the flyer moving into wind, the kite will begin to become unstable and begin to rock from side to side, or in extreme cases even spin. By reapplying tension at the right moment, the kite will move in the direction that the flyer requires.
Although a spool that allows rapid winding and release of line is used, often the flyer will fly the kite by holding the line itself, with one or more assistants to help manage the slack line between the flyer and the spool.
Kites used range from 0.5 meter to 1.5 meters across. The usual name for the sport is gudiparan bazi and for the cutting line tar. As elsewhere, the line is traditionally made with a cotton line and coated with a mixture of crushed glass and rice glue. However, nylon string with stronger glue is now often the preferred line. Kites can go up to 3,500 meters in height depending on the size of the kite.][
From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban government in Afghanistan outlawed kite fighting, and kite flying, by declaring it "un-Islamic". After the fall of the Taliban government kite fighting has returned to the country.
Most Caribbean kites are hexagonal, flown with a tail, and instead of cutting with glass-coated line, use sharp objects (generally razor blades) attached to the tails to try to "koule" (Creole for "drop") other kites.
Variations of this style exist throughout the Caribbean – in Haiti, Cuba, Curaçao and Surinam.
Fighter kites are known as patang in India. In many others, kite flying takes place mainly during specific festivals particularly the spring festival known as Basant, during Makar Sankranti and more recently on Indian Independence Day.
As part of the Shakrain festival, people mostly from south Dhaka city engage in kite fighting. They fly kites mostly from the rooftops. The festival is held in the last day of the Poush month.
The Nagasaki Hata is similar to the Indian Patang, and it believed to have been introduced into Japan, from Indonesia, by Dutch traders. It is highly maneuverable and fought with glass coated line in line cutting contests in a similar way to kite fighting in many other countries.
Another type of kite fighting in Japan uses very large kites requiring teams. In these contests cutting line is not used, but instead kites are forced down. The festivals occur at Shirone and Hamamatsu.
The Rokkaku is 1-2m high hexagonal kite fought with teams of players flying each kite. Both the Rokkaku and the smaller rectangular Buka have been adopted and further developed by western kite enthusiasts.
The Korean ﬁghter kite, the bang-pae yeon is a rectangular, bowed “shield” kite with a hole in the middle of the sail. The frame uses ﬁve bamboo spars—one each across the top and the “waist” of the kite, a “spine,” and two diagonals.
Although cutting line and fights are similar to other Asian fighter kites, a large spool is always used.
Kite fighting in Nepal is especially active during the festival of Dashain. The skies are filled with colourful kites called changas, made from Nepali lokta paper. The line used is coated in crushed glass in order to cut through the lines of rival kites. When a rival line has been cut, the victorious team shouts "chet" to claim their win over the other team.
Kite fighting is common in all over Pakistan, but mainly concentrated in cities of Punjab and Sindh region including Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Karachi, Islamabad etc. While city of Lahore is considered as the capital of kite battling in South Asia. Kite flying is considered as the culture of Lahore. In past, kite battling had a status of sports in Lahore, and those kite flyers were termed as "Khilari" or sportsman.
The kites that are manufactured for battling are very different from the conventional kites as they are especially designed and made for this purpose. Each of these kites has some special abilities for battling which make them unique from each other. According to history, Akbar the Mughal Emperor, who lived in his residence in Lahore from 1584 to 1598, enclosed the city with brick walls and 12 gates of considerable height and strength. One of the gates, called the "Moochi Darwaza" or "Cobbler Gateway," is the most popular site in Lahore to buy and sell Kite flying and firework materials. Kup, Patang, Guda, Nakhlaoo, Pan, Tukal, Muchal, Farfarata, etc. are some of the kites used in the battle, and they vary in balance, weight and speed through the air.
Kite flying is currently banned in some regions of Pakistan as some kite fliers engage in kite battles by coating their strings with glass or shards of metal, leading to injuries and death.
Threads for kite battling are manufactured using especial glues, chemicals and crushed glass and are numbered based on their ability to cut other threads and to handle kite's weight. It is a social event in Pakistan that happens once a year.
City of Lahore is famous for its Bassant or Spring Festival throughout South Asian communities. People from all over Pakistan and few from neighboring India come to Lahore to annually celebrate the two days long Bassant or Spring Festival. This festival is mostly held on last weekend of February or March. Festival is started on the night of Saturday, people battle White colored kites, organize parties and arrange loud music on their rooftops throughout the night till morning. Whitepaper kite shimmer in the night sky diving soaring as rival flyers joust duels marked with the battle cries of "PAICHA" and victory cries of "BOO KAATAA". Every success is celebrated with Bhangra Dance and beating of traditional drum.
Mainly centered in Lahore and Faisalabad, people spend thousands of Rupees in preparing different types of kites and threads best suited to battle. Homes are also decorated with lights and decorations for evening festivities for the next day.
The Korean shield kite (pangp'aeyon), the Japanese Rokkaku and Nagasaki Hata, the Brazilian Piao, the Chilean fighter kites have been used for demonstration purposes at various large kite festivals throughout the country.
Starting in the late 1990s, "American Kite Fighting" uses small innovative kites of a range of shapes and materials on short lines for "line touch" competition. Now practiced throughout the country, with an annual championship competition held in Washington state
In India, Pakistan, and Chile, there have been reported accidents involving the abrasive coated cutting line. These accidents range in severity from small cuts on the fighter's fingers to a few reported deaths from contact with the line while riding motorcycles. In recent years, the fighting lines have evolved from the traditional cotton, rice and glass line to nylon or synthetic line coated with metallic or chemical abrasive compounds. To prevent further injury, many countries have implemented restrictions or bans on the use of cutting line. Some have set limits on the materials used to make the line, others have mandated safety devices on motorcycles when riding during kite festivals. People have been injured while fixated on capturing a cut kite. Other injuries have been due to not paying attention to ones actions while watching battles. Most of these accidents are preventable when fighting is strictly controlled to a specific arena and proper safety gear is worn by the fighters. Other accidents have occurred due to the masses of people present during large kite festivals for which kite fighting has taken the blame.
The kite strings left around after the fight can become stuck in tall trees and can stay there for many years, impacting the natural aesthetic of parks and wilderness areas, thus degrading the experience of other park users from the trash that is left about.
Dogs have also been known to get trapped and injured on kite lines that have fallen closer to the ground.
Many of these kites are flown with an abrasive coated line (manja). Most kites are flown with a set length of manja at the kite end. The manja is very sharp and to avoid getting hand injuries most competitors use ordinary string (saddi) for their hand position. Some cutting involves knives of some sort attached to the tail, line, or kite. Competition rules vary by geographical area. Two or more contestants fly their kites. The person who cuts the opponents line wins the fight. In multiple kite matches, the person with the last kite in the air is the winner.
The two most common types of cutting are done with abrasive coated line - release cutting or pull cutting. To release cut, once the lines are in contact, both parties start to play out line until one line is cut. In pull cutting, the flier quickly retrieves line until the opponents line is cut. There are many factors in who will win the event and include the size of the kite, the quality of the kite, the quality of the line, the quality of the abrasive on the line, the quality and size of the spool, the spool handler, initial contact, the skill of the person flying the kite, and the wind conditions.
Two or more kites are flown. Competitors try to capture their opponents kite and bring it to the ground. The person or team who succeeds is the winner.
Expert kite fighters are able to cut their opponents line (manjha) and then encircle the trailing line (lubjow) of the cut kite. Once secured, the winner can then fly both kites and pull in the prize. Those not involved in the kite flying can be "kite runners" (Once a kite is cut, it no longer belongs to anyone until caught and claimed by the kite runner.). Many children die every year when they run into the path of vehicles or fall off roofs or, occasionally, with the fiber glass string cutting the flier's fingers or neck. The glass on the string is said to give the kite "cutting teeth".
Amir Peretz (Hebrew: , Arabic: ; born Armand Peretz on 9 March 1952) is an Israeli politician who currently serves as Minister of Environmental Protection. He has previously served as Minister of Defence and leader of the Labor Party. In 2012 he left the Labor Party to join the centrist Hatnuah.
Peretz is the former chairman of the Histadrut trade union federation and defeated Shimon Peres in the primary elections for the Labor leadership on 9 November 2005. He led the Labor Party to a second place showing in the 2006 elections and became Defense Minister on 4 May 2006. He was defeated by Ehud Barak for the Labor leadership on 12 June 2007 and resigned from the cabinet. He joined the Hatnuah party in December 2012.
Peretz was born as Armand Peretz in Boujad, Morocco on 9 March 1952 during French colonial rule. His father David was head of the Jewish community in Boujad. He worked as an accountant and at a petrol station. The family emigrated to Israel when Morocco won independence in 1956. They were settled in the development town of Sderot, where Peretz lived until the age of 18. He went to high school in a nearby kibbutz.
He served in the Israel Defense Forces as the brigade ordnance officer of the 202nd paratroopers brigade and reached the rank of captain. On 22 April 1974, Peretz was badly wounded as a result of an accident at the Mitla Pass. He spent a year in the hospital recuperating. After leaving the hospital, he bought a farm in the village of Nir Akiva. Still in a wheelchair, he began growing vegetables and flowers for export. During this period he met his wife Ahlama and they married. They have four children.
In 1983, answering a call made by friends, Peretz ran for the office of mayor of Sderot, as candidate of the Israel Labor Party. At only 31 years of age he won a victory which ended a long period of dominance of the town's politics by the right-wing Likud party and the National Religious Party. It was the first in a series of local councils which passed back to Labor control in the late 1980s. As mayor, he strongly emphasized education and worked to improve previously fractious relations with the kibbutzim in the area.
In 1988 he was elected a member of the Knesset. In 1994, after failing in a previous bid for Histadrut leadership, Peretz joined forces with Haim Ramon to contest control of the then powerful trade union federation. They ran on an independent list against the favoured candidate of then Labor leader Yitzhak Rabin. They won, and Peretz became Ramon's deputy at the Histadrut. This isolated Peretz within the Labor Party. He became chairman of Histadrut in December 1995, when Ramon reentered the cabinet following Rabin's assassination. During his early years at the helm of the Histadrut, Peretz was regarded as a militant firebrand, with an easy hand on the trigger of general strikes. Sometimes the pretext for declaring a general strike would be an inopportune statement by the finance minister, as had been the case with Ya'akov Ne'eman in 1996.
However, in his later years as head of Histadrut, Peretz was seen as becoming much more moderate, as he moved toward a potential run for national office. During the tenure of Benjamin Netanyahu as finance minister (February 2003 – August 2005), Peretz was fairly cooperative with the government in a series of structural and financial reforms that moved Israel towards a more market-oriented economy. He has remarked that "the most effective strike is the one that didn't occur".
In 1999 Peretz resigned from the Labor Party to form his own party, One Nation. The party won two seats in the Knesset in the 1999 elections, and three in 2003. As Labor's fortunes changed with the Likud Party in government, and Israel's social programmes being dismantled by the market-oriented reforms of finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Peretz became increasingly popular with Israel's working-class. By the start of 2004 he was being talked of as a "white knight who will rescue Labor from oblivion". After protracted negotiations with then-Labor Party leader Shimon Peres and other party leaders, One Nation merged with Labor in the summer of 2004.
After the merger, Peretz ran for the leadership of the Labor Party on a platform of ending the coalition with Likud, led by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and reasserting Labor's traditional socialist economic policies. Peretz narrowly defeated Peres, the incumbent leader, in the election on 9 November 2005.
During his campaign Peretz declared that "within two years of taking office I will have eradicated child poverty in Israel". Notwithstanding, he has reiterated his commitment to a market economy. For his movement in latter years towards "third way" positions, as well as for his earthy and warm personality, Peretz has been compared to Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
In matters concerning relations with the Palestinians and the Arab world, Peretz was seen as holding dovish positions. He was one of the early leaders of the Peace Now movement. He was also, in the 1980s, a member of a group of eight Labor party Knesset members, dubbed "the Eight" and led by Yossi Beilin, who tried to set a liberal agenda for the party in matters concerning the peace process with the Palestinians, connecting the unresolved conflict with the Palestinians with the failure to solve Israel's most pressing social ills.
Peretz saw an intrinsic connection between a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the resolving of Israel's internal social tensions. He argued that the resources allotted to the settlements in the West Bank had diverted funds that could have helped to solve social problems throughout Israel. He described the conflict as having mutated Israeli politics, so that the traditional left-right distinctions did not hold. Instead of supporting a social-democratic left which would advance their cause, the lower classes, mostly of Middle Eastern Jewish origins, were diverted to the right by the fanning of nationalist tendencies. Concurrently, the left in Israel was usurped by the well-to-do, so that the Labor party had ironically become elitist. Peretz also backed direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas.
Peretz won 42% of the votes as against 40% for Peres and 17% for former defence minister and former party leader Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. After winning this election, Peretz resigned from his post at Histadrut to focus on the campaign to become the prime minister. In fulfillment of Peretz's pledge to withdraw Labor from the Likud-led coalition government, the party withdrew its support for the government on 11 November and all Labor Party cabinet ministers resigned. This action deprived the government of its majority in the Knesset and resulted in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon calling a new election for 28 March 2006. Shortly thereafter, Sharon and much of his Cabinet left Likud to form a new party, Kadima.
Peretz was widely criticised for abandoning the social agenda which headlined his campaign. He was accused of choosing to undertake the Israeli Ministry of Defense portfolio merely because of its prestige and that he should have demanded the Ministry of Finance portfolio that better corresponds with his and the Labor Party social agenda. His performance as a Minister of Defense during the Second Lebanon War was deemed to be poor by the public which led to an early elections for the Labor Party leadership. He was defeated by former Labor Party Chairman and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and chose to resign from his post.
If Labor had won the 2006 election, Amir Peretz would have become the first non-Ashkenazi prime minister in Israel's history. Instead, Labor placed a strong second behind the Kadima Party, led by Sharon's successor, Ehud Olmert. Labor agreed to join a coalition government led by Olmert and the Kadima Party. In the negotiations for the formation of the government, Peretz, after attempting to gain the finance ministry, became Defense Minister, replacing Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) in the post. Peretz also received the title of Deputy Prime Minister.
During his term as Defense Minister, on 12 July, the second Lebanon war broke between Israel and Lebanon, following the capture of two Israeli soldiers by the Hezbollah from Israel's northern border. Peretz, together with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have decided to respond aggressively and launched a campaign against the Lebanese militia of Hezbollah. For 33 days the attacks were carried out via air and land on military and civilian targets. In the last 48 hours of the war, Peretz pushed for a massive ground operation. Land troops were flown by helicopters to seize the ground between the Israeli-Lebanese border and the river Litani. In this operation, over 33 Israeli soldiers were killed, and much anger was created amongst the Israeli public. The committee that was established by the government to investigate the war, the Winograd Committee, found that the decision to launch this operation was rational and justifiable under the current circumstances. After losing the internal elections in the Labor party to Ehud Barak, Peretz quit the defense ministry in June 2007.
During his period as the leader of the Labor Party, Peretz nominated an Arab Muslim Israeli, Raleb Majadele, to be Minister of Culture, Science and Sports. His nomination was a breakthrough in the fragile relationship between the Arab-Israeli population and the Israeli government. This nomination was criticized by the right-wing party of Yisrael Beiteinu headed by Avigdor Lieberman.
Peretz remained in the Knesset after losing his leadership role in the Labor Party and was re-elected in 2009. He opposed Ehud Barak's decision to enter a coalition government headed by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. In December 2012, he left the Labor Party to join Tzipi Livni's new Hatnuah party. As a result, he resigned from the Knesset, and was replaced by Yoram Marciano.
Amir Peretz was being hailed during Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 as a defense visionary for having had the foresight while in office back in 2006-2007 to face down myriad skeptics and push for the development of Iron Dome, Israel’s unique anti-rocket interceptor system.
The Kite Runner
Yigal Amir (Hebrew: , born May 23, 1970) is the Israeli murderer of Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin. The assassination took place on November 4, 1995 at the conclusion of a rally in Tel Aviv. Amir is currently serving a life sentence for murder plus six years for injuring Rabin's bodyguard, Yoram Rubin, under aggravating circumstances. He was later sentenced to an additional 8 years for conspiracy to murder.
Yigal Amir was born to a religious Yemenite Jewish family in Herzliya, Israel, one of eight children. His father, Shlomo, was a sofer, and held a post supervising the kosher slaughtering of chickens, and taught Shabbat lessons at a local synagogue. His mother, Geula, was a kindergarten teacher and ran a nursery school in the home's backyard. Yigal Amir attended a Haredi elementary school in Herzliya and a high school yeshiva in Tel Aviv. He did his military service in the Israel Defense Forces as a Hesder student, combining army service in the Golani Brigade with religious study at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh. Amir served in a religious platoon, and even among his comrades, he was known as a religious fanatic.
Following his military service, Amir was nominated by the religious-Zionist youth movement Bnei Akiva to teach Judaism in Riga, Latvia, as part of Nativ.
In 1993, Amir began studying at Bar-Ilan University as part of its kollel program, mixing religious and secular studies. Amir studied law and computer science, as well as Jewish law at the Institute for Advanced Torah Studies. Amir was heavily opposed to the Oslo Accords. He participated in protest rallies against the accords on campus, was active in organizing weekend bus outings to support Israeli settlers, and helped found an illegal settlement outpost. He was especially active in Hebron, where he led marches through the streets.
During his years as an activist, Amir became friendly with Avishai Raviv, to whom he revealed his plan to kill Rabin. While Raviv posed as a right-wing radical, he was working for Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, whose mission was to encourage and fabricate activities of right-wing extremists to discredit them.
In 1994, during his university studies, Amir met and began a relationship with Nava Holtzman, a law student from a religious Ashkenazi family. In January 1995, after five months, Holtzman ended the relationship after her parents objected due to Amir's Mizrahi background. She married one of his friends soon afterwards. Amir, who attended the wedding, went into a deep depression. His father Shlomo and brother Hagai speculated that this depression was what ultimately drove him to commit the assassination.
On November 4, 1995, after a demonstration in Tel Aviv's Kings of Israel Square (now Rabin Square) in support of the Oslo Accords, Amir waited for Rabin in a parking lot adjacent to the square, close to Rabin's official limousine. There he shot Rabin twice with a Beretta 84F .380 ACP caliber semi-automatic pistol and injured Yoram Rubin, a security guard, with a third shot. Amir was immediately seized by Rabin's bodyguards. Rabin was rushed to Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center where he died on an operating table 40 minutes later of blood loss and a punctured lung. According to the court, Yigal Amir's brother, Hagai, and his friend Dror Adani, were his accomplices in the assassination plan.
Upon hearing that Yitzhak Rabin was dead, Amir told the police he was "satisfied." At his trial Amir said he didn't care if the outcome was death or paralysis as long as Rabin was "out of the way." He expressed no regret for his actions.
The assassination was preceded by three unsuccessful attempts that same year: at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, at the Nof Yerushalayim Hotel and a ceremony inaugurating a highway in Kfar Shmaryahu. These plans fell through moments before implementation.
The trial lasted from January 23 to March 27, 1996. Amir was defended by two court-appointed attorneys, Gabi Shachar and Shmuel Flishman, in addition to Yonatan Ray Goldberg and Mordechai Ofri, who represented him earlier in the trial. The judges ordered a mental examination by three district psychiatrists and a clinical psychiatrist who all agreed that Amir understood the meaning of his actions and was fit to stand trial.
Despite attempts to defend his actions on religious grounds, Amir was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment plus six additional years in prison for injuring the bodyguard. In the verdict, the three judges wrote:
Every murder is an abominable act, but the act before us is more abominable sevenfold, because not only has the accused not expressed regret or sorrow, but he also seeks to show that he is at peace with himself over the act that he perpetrated. He who so calmly cuts short another's life, only proves the depth of wretchedness to which [his] values have fallen, and thus he does not merit any regard whatsoever, except pity, because he has lost his humanity.
Amir's action was condemned by Bar-Ilan University. A professor of Talmud at the university, Daniel Sperber, said that this act "in no way represents the university or the policy of the university."
Amir's claim that he was acting in accordance with Jewish law was rejected: "The attempt to grant religious authority to the murder...is completely inappropriate and amounts to cynical exploitation of Jewish law for goals that are alien to Judaism.
Amir was later sentenced to an additional five years, and after an appeal on behalf of the state, eight years, for conspiring to commit the assassination with his brother Hagai Amir and Dror Adani. All of the sentences were cumulative. In Israel, a sentence of life imprisonment is usually reduced to a period of 20–30 years by the president, with the possibility of further reduction for good behavior. However, President Moshe Katsav did not reduce the sentence, saying that there is "no forgiveness, no absolution and no pardon" for Yigal Amir. Present Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have also said that Yigal Amir will never be released from prison.
On 19 December 2001, the Knesset by majority of 62 members approved the Yigal Amir Law, which prohibits a parole board from recommending pardon or shortening time in prison of a murderer of a Prime Minister. In the discussion that ensued, it was hoped the law would prevent another political murder.
Amir was held in solitary confinement in Beersheba's Eshel Prison and moved in 2003 to the Ayalon Prison in Ramla. In 2006, he was transferred to Rimonim Prison near Netanya. He was also granted the privileges of having no surveillance cameras in his cell, the right to receive visitors in the visiting room rather than in his cell, and the right to speak with other prisoners. Amir was interviewed by the Israeli press in 2008 but the planned broadcast was controversial and subsequently cancelled. As punishment for giving the interview Amir was moved to Ramon Prison and had a number of privileges withdrawn, including the removal of his TV and DVD player and the refusal of family visits; Amir went on a hunger strike in protest. In February 2010, the Nazareth District Court permitted the Ynet internet news service to interview Amir.
In July 2010, after 15 years of solitary confinement, Amir appealed to the Petah Tikva District Court to be permitted to pray in group prayers in accordance to Jewish law. He claimed that the terms of his imprisonment were worse than any other prisoner in the history of the State of Israel, on the grounds that no other prisoner had been in solitary for this amount of time. He said that failure to allow him to pray in synagogue would be a violation of his right to freedom of worship. In August 2010, the court ruled that Amir would be allowed to meet another prisoner for prayer three times a week, and that he would be allowed to study Torah with another prisoner once every two weeks.
In July 2012, it was announced that Amir would be released from solitary confinement. Under his new prison conditions, he will be allowed to watch television and use a phone more frequently. Though he will not be moved to an open cell block, where prisoners are allowed to spend most of the day outside their cells, but will be allowed to meet other prisoners during his two hours' exercise in the prison yard.
Amir's appeals of both sentences were rejected. Subsequently, a law was passed by the Knesset barring the pardon by the President of Israel for any assassin of a prime minister. Amir has never expressed regret for his actions. Since 2007, the Amir family and the "Committee for Democracy" campaigned to release Yigal and Hagai Amir. The campaign includes statements for the media, stickers, posters and short films.
From time to time radical Israeli right-wing organizations carry out campaigns (via posters or videos) which call for the release of Yigal Amir and his brother Hagai. A campaign such as that was held in October 2007 in which the prominent Israeli singer Ariel Zilber also participated. In response to this campaign the Israeli Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter stated: "This man is in the closest status a person can be to a death sentence" and also added that "A reduction of his sentence is impossible and illogical, and it will surely accompany him until he would pass away".
Larisa Trembovler was born in Russia. She has a Ph.D. in philosophy. She has published a novel in Russian (A Mirror for a Prince) and is an Orthodox Jew. Larisa met Amir in Latvia, where he was teaching Judaism. After her immigration to Israel, she visited Amir with her husband, Benjamin (with whom she has four children), for humanitarian reasons. Larisa expressed ideological support for Amir, and they began to correspond and speak on the phone. Larisa divorced her husband in 2003.
Larisa announced that she was engaged to Amir and wanted to marry while Amir was in jail. In January 2004, after their request was filed, the Israel Prisons Service declared it would not permit the marriage. In April 2004, the matter was brought before the Tel Aviv District Court. At the time, the Prisons Commissioner instructed his legal aides to defend the decision based on security considerations. But Amir's lawyers said this claim violated their client's basic rights and would not hold up in court. They noted that several Palestinians serving multiple life terms for crimes such as murder have been permitted to marry in prison. Legal analysts have said the Supreme Court would likely uphold any appeal by Amir's lawyer, unless specific legislation is enacted prohibiting him from marrying. In August 2004, Trimbovler and Amir were wed in a surreptitious proxy marriage. Under Jewish law, a prospective husband can grant a form of "power of attorney" to a chosen representative, who can then transfer a wedding ring, or something of similar value, to the prospective wife. On July 2005 their marriage was validated by an Israeli rabbinical court. Larisa submitted a petition after the Interior Ministry refused to register Amir and Larisa as a married couple. Israel's Justice Ministry defined Amir's marriage as "problematic" because according to a past ruling, a marriage ceremony not conducted in the presence of a rabbi from the Chief Rabbinate is unrecognized.
On February 6, 2006, Haaretz reported that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz had ordered the Interior Ministry to register Amir and Trimbovler as a married couple. They then filed requests with the Prison Authority and petitions to court to enable them to hold conjugal visits or conceive a child through artificial insemination.
In March 2006 the Israeli Prison Service approved Amir's petition for in vitro fertilization. The service was to study how this process would be conducted without Amir leaving the prison. A week later, Amir was caught handing a pre-prepared bag of semen to his wife and the visit was terminated. After the incident a disciplinary tribunal barred visits from his wife for 30 days and phone calls for 14 days. He was fined NIS 100 (then US$21). When the treatments were withheld due to a petition by several members of Knesset, Yigal Amir refused to eat. After being warned that hunger strikes are in violation of prison regulations, some of his privileges were canceled. The IVF treatments were stopped after several members of the Knesset submitted a petition. Amir responded by going on hunger strike.
Up until October 20, 2006, the Shin Bet security service had opposed unsupervised visits. Four days later, Amir was allowed a 10-hour-long conjugal visit. Five months later it was reported that Larisa was pregnant. On October 28, 2007, she gave birth to a son, who was named Yinon Eliya Shalom. The brit milah was held in prison on November 4, 2007, the 12th anniversary of Rabin's assassination.
In Motti Lerner's play The Murder of Isaac, Yigal Amir tells Rabin, "Don’t forget that you’re an Isaac, too".
Nasrullah Khan (Afghanistan)
The Kite Runner is a novel by Khaled Hosseini. Published in 2003 by Riverhead Books, it is Hosseini's first novel, and was adapted into a film of the same name in 2007.
The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, whose closest friend is Hassan, his father's young Hazara servant. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy through the Soviet military intervention, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime.
Amir, a well-to-do Pashtun boy, and Hassan, a Hazara who is the son of Ali, Amir's father's servant, spend their days in the hitherto peaceful city of Kabul, kite fighting. Amir's father, a wealthy merchant, whom Amir affectionately refers to as Baba, loves both boys, but is often more harshly critical of Amir, considering him weak and lacking in courage. Amir finds a kinder fatherly figure in Rahim Khan, Baba's closest friend. Khan understands Amir and supports his interest in writing. Amir explains that his first word was 'Baba' and Hassan's 'Amir', suggesting that Amir looks up most to Baba, while Hassan looks up to Amir. Baba had said to Amir that he doesn't care about religion.
Assef, a notorious sociopath and violent older boy, mocks Amir for socializing with a Hazara, which is, according to Assef, an inferior race whose members belong only in Hazarajat. One day, he prepares to attack Amir with stainless-steel brass knuckles, but Hassan bravely stands up to him, threatening to shoot out Assef's eye with his slingshot. Assef and his posse back off, but Assef threatens revenge.
Hassan is a successful "kite runner" for Amir, knowing where the kite will land without watching it. One triumphant day, Amir wins the local tournament, and finally Baba's praise. Hassan runs for the last cut kite, a great trophy, saying to Amir, "For you, a thousand times over." Unfortunately, Hassan encounters Assef in an alleyway after finding the kite. Hassan refuses to give up Amir's kite, and Assef decides to teach Hassan a lesson. He beats him severely and then sodomizes him. Amir witnesses the act but is too scared to intervene. Secretly, he also knows that if he intervenes, he might not be able to bring the kite home; therefore, Baba would be less proud of him. After witnessing this brutal act against his dearest friend, he feels incredibly guilty, but knows that his cowardice would destroy any hopes for Baba's affections, so he tells no one what he saw. Afterward, Amir keeps a distance from Hassan, his guilt preventing him from interacting with the boy. Jealous of Baba's love for Hassan, Amir worries that if Baba found out about Hassan's bravery and his own cowardice, Baba's love for Hassan would grow even more.
Amir, filled with guilt on his birthday, cannot enjoy his gifts. The only present that does not feel like "blood" money is the notebook to write his stories in given to him by Rahim Khan, his father's friend and the only one Amir felt really understood him.
Amir feels life would be easier if Hassan were not around, so he plants a watch and some money under Hassan's mattress in hopes that Baba will make him leave; Hassan falsely confesses when confronted by Baba. Baba forgives him, despite the fact that, as he explains earlier, he believes that "there is no act more wretched than stealing." Hassan and Ali, to Baba's extreme sorrow, leave anyway. It is clear that Ali knows about Hassan's rape. Their leaving frees Amir of the daily reminder of his cowardice and betrayal, but he still lives in the shadow of these things.
Five years later, the Soviet Union militarily intervenes in Afghanistan in 1979. Amir and Baba escape to Peshawar, Pakistan and then to Fremont, California, where Amir and Baba, who lived in luxury in an expensive mansion in Afghanistan, settle in a run-down apartment and Baba begins work at a gas station. Amir eventually takes classes at a local community college to develop his writing skills after graduating from high school at age twenty. Every Sunday, Baba and Amir make extra money selling used goods at a flea market in San Jose. There, Amir meets fellow refugee Soraya Taheri and her family. Soraya's father, General Taheri, once a high-ranking officer in Afghanistan, has contempt for Amir's literary aspiration. Baba is diagnosed with terminal small cell carcinoma but is still capable of granting Amir one last favor: he asks Soraya's father's permission for Amir to marry her. He agrees and the two marry. Shortly thereafter Baba dies. Amir and Soraya settle down in a happy marriage, but to their sorrow they learn that they cannot have children.
Amir embarks on a successful career as a novelist. Fifteen years after his wedding, Amir receives a call from Rahim Khan, who is dying from an illness. Rahim Khan asks Amir to come to Peshawar, Pakistan. He enigmatically tells Amir, "There is a way to be good again." Amir goes.
From Rahim Khan, Amir learns the fates of Ali and Hassan. Ali was killed by a land mine. Hassan had a wife named Farzana and a son named Sohrab. He had lived in a village near Bamiyan, but returned to Baba's house as a caretaker at Rahim Khan's request, although he moved to a hut in the yard so as not to dishonor Amir by taking his place in the house. During his stay, his mother Sanaubar returned after a long search for him, and died after four years. One month after Rahim Khan left for Pakistan, the Taliban ordered Hassan to give up the house and leave, but he refused, and was executed, along with Farzana. Rahim Khan reveals that Ali was not really Hassan's father, that Ali was sterile, and that Hassan was actually Baba's son, and therefore Amir's half-brother. Finally, Rahim Khan tells Amir that the true reason he called Amir to Pakistan was to rescue Sohrab from an orphanage in Kabul.
Rahim Khan asks Amir to bring Sohrab to Thomas and Betty Caldwell, who own an orphanage. Amir becomes furious; he feels cheated because he had not known that Hassan was his half-brother. Amir finally relents and decides to go to Kabul to get Sohrab. He travels in a taxi with an Afghan driver named Farid, a veteran of the war with the Soviets, and stays as a guest at Farid's brother Wahid's house. Farid, initially hostile to Amir, is sympathetic when he hears of Amir's true reason for returning, and offers to accompany him on his journey.
Amir searches for Sohrab at the orphanage. To enter Taliban territory, clean shaven Amir wears a fake beard and mustache. However, Sohrab is not at the orphanage; its director tells them that a Taliban official comes often, brings cash, and usually takes a girl away with him. Once in a while however, he takes a boy, recently Sohrab. The director tells Amir to go to a soccer match, where the procurer makes speeches at half-time. Farid secures an appointment with the speaker at his home, by claiming to have "personal business" with him.
At the house, Amir meets the man, who turns out to be Assef. Assef recognizes Amir from the outset, but Amir does not recognise Assef until he asks about Ali, Baba, and Hassan. Sohrab is being kept at Assef's home where he is made to dance dressed in women's clothes, and it seems Assef may have raped him. (Sohrab later confirms this saying, "I'm so dirty and full of sin. The bad man and the other two did things to me.") Assef agrees to relinquish him, but only for a price—cruelly beating Amir. However, Amir is saved when Sohrab uses his slingshot to shoot out Assef's left eye, fulfilling Hassan's threat made many years before.
While at a hospital treating his injuries, Amir asks Farid to find information about Thomas and Betty Caldwell. When Farid returns, he tells Amir that the American couple does not exist.
Amir tells Sohrab of his plans to take him back to America and possibly adopt him, and promises that he will never be sent to an orphanage again. However, US authorities demand evidence of Sohrab's orphan status. After decades of war, this is all but impossible to get in Afghanistan. Amir tells Sohrab that he may have to temporarily break his promise until the paperwork is completed. Upon hearing this, Sohrab attempts suicide. Amir eventually takes him back to the United States without an orphanage, and introduces him to his wife. However, Sohrab is emotionally damaged and refuses to speak to or even glance at Soraya. His frozen emotions eventually thaw when Amir reminisces about Hassan and kites. Amir shows off some of Hassan's tricks, and Sohrab begins to interact with Amir again. In the end Sohrab only shows a lopsided smile, but Amir takes to it with all his heart as he runs the kite for Sohrab, saying, "For you, a thousand times over."
The Kite Runner received the South African Boeke Prize in 2004. It was also voted the Reading Group Book of the Year for 2006 and 2007 and headed a list of 60 titles submitted by entrants to the Penguin/Orange Reading Group prize (UK).
The Kite Runner has been accused of 'hindering' Western understanding of the Taliban by portraying Taliban members as representatives of various social and doctrinal evils, according to them, not typically attributed to the Taliban (take, for example, Assef's pedophilia, Nazism, drug abuse and sadism, and the fact that he is an executioner). The American Library Association reports that The Kite Runner is one of its most-challenged books of 2008, with multiple attempts to remove it from libraries due to "offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group."
Afghanistan's Ministry of Culture banned the film from distribution in cinemas or DVD stores, citing the possibility that the movie's ethnically charged rape scene could incite racial violence within Afghanistan.
The Kite Runner was published in 2003 and in 2007 adapted as a motion picture starring Khalid Abdalla (Amir), Homayoun Ershadi (Baba), and Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada (Hassan). Directed by Marc Forster and with a screenplay by David Benioff, the movie won numerous awards and was nominated for an Oscar (2008), the BAFTA Film Award (2008) and the Critics Choice Award (2008). However, Manhola Dargis of the New York Times states that "The back of my paperback copy of this Khaled Hosseini novel is sprinkled with words like 'powerful' and 'haunting' and 'riveting' and 'unforgettable'. It's a good guess this film will be rolled around in a similarly large helping of lard."
The novel was also adapted to the stage by Bay Area playwright Matthew Spangler. It was performed at San Jose State University in March 2007 and two years later at San Jose Repertory Theatre, where David Ira Goldstein (artistic director of Arizona Theater Company) directed a cast that included Barzin Akhavan (Amir), Demosthenes Chrysan (General Taheri), Gregor Paslawsky (Rahim Khan), James Saba (Baba), Thamos Fiscelle (Ali), Craig Piaget (Young Amir), Lowell Abellon (Young Hassan), Rinabeth Apostol (Soraya), Adam Yazbeck (Assef), Zarif Kabier Sadiqi, Wahab Shayek, and Lani Carissa Wong, with Salar Nader also onstage playing tabla. The play was subsequently produced at Arizona Theatre Company (2009), Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Play House (both 2010) and The New Repertory Theatre of Watertown, Massachusetts (Sept. 2012). The play had its Canadian premiere as a co-production between Theatre Calgary and The Citadel Theatre (January 2013). In April 2013 the play made its European stage premiere at the Nottingham Playhouse, where the lead role was played by Ben Turner (actor).
In September 2011 Bloomsbury published a Graphic Novel adaptation of Kite Runner, which was illustrated by Fabio Celoni (ink) and Mirka Andolfo (colour).
The Kite Runner (film)
Nasrullah Khan (1874–1920), sometimes spelt as Nasr Ullah Khan, was shahzada (crown prince) of Afghanistan and second son of Emir Abdur Rahman Khan. He held the throne of Afghanistan as Emir for one week, from February 21 to February 28, 1919.
Nasrullah was born at Samarkand in 1874, the second of three sons of Abdur Rahman Khan. His brothers were Habibullah Khan and Mohammed Omar Khan. Nasrullah's birth occurred during a period in which his father Abdur Rahman Khan was living in exile in Russian Turkestan.
On July 22, 1880, Nasrullah's father was recognised as Emir following the end of British occupation of Afghanistan, on the condition that he align Afghanistan's foreign policy with that of Britain. As a consequence of his father's ascension of the throne, Nasrullah (and his elder brother Habibullah) became Shahzada (crown princes) of Afghanistan.
In 1895 the Emir Abdur Rahman Khan had intended to undertake a state visit to England to pay his respects to the ageing Queen Victoria. However, his health prevented him from making the trip, and so he instead sent his son the Shahzada Nasrullah Khan. Nasrullah departed Bombay on April 29, 1895, with an entourage of over 90 dignitaries, including "five or six" high-ranking Afghan nobles and a group of priests for the observance of religious functions. On May 23 the Shahzada landed at Portsmouth in England.
On 27 May 1895 the Shahzada was received by the Queen at Windsor. During his trip he also visited the Liverpool Overhead Railway, and went to Ascot, Glasgow, and the Elswick Company Gun Range at Blitterlees Banks, as well as staying with Lord Armstrong at Cragside. He made a gift of £2,500 to Abdullah Quilliam to support the work of the Liverpool Muslim Institute.
At the time of his visit, the Shahzada was 20 years of age. He reportedly did not speak English well, and did not make a good impression on the local press. A reporter from the Cumberland Pacquet described him as "a stolid, impassive, and greatly bored youth".
On September 3, 1895 he left England for Paris, and from Paris went on to Rome and Naples, and arrived in Karachi on October 16, 1895. He returned to Kabul through Quetta, Chaman and Kandahar. The National Geographic Magazine believed this to be the longest journey ever undertaken by an Afghan.
In 1895, Nasrullah and his brother Habibullah received the Knight Grand Cross of St Michael and St George from Queen Victoria in recognition of their services to the British Commonwealth.
On October 3, 1901 Nasrullah's father Abdur Rahman died, aged 57, and Nasrullah's brother Habibullah peacefully ascended the throne of Afghanistan by right of primogeniture.
Prior to his death, Abdur Rahman had sought to totally subdue any sources of opposition to his reign and the stability of Afghanistan with strict laws and restrictions. Among those affected by Abdur Rahman's restrictions was the religious establishment. Upon Abdur Rahman's death, the religious establishment sought to regain its power, and saw in Nasrullah a potential ally. Nasrullah was by this stage deeply religious and had qualified as a Hafiz, or "Repeater of the Qur'an", one who has memorised a substantial portion of the Islamic regligious texts. Throughout his adult life he advocated an Afghan policy strongly aligned with Islamic principles.
Recognising his brother as a potential contender for the throne, Habibullah went to lengths to placate and gain the support of Nasrullah. Upon Habibullah's succession to the throne he named Nasrullah commander-in-chief of the Afghan army, and also gave him the title of President of the State Council. Later in his reign, Habibullah named Nasrullah his heir to the throne in preference to Habibullah's own sons. By contrast, Nasrullah's younger brother Mohammed Omar Jar, and Mohammed's mother the Queen Dowager Bibi Hallima, both of whom were powerful political forces potentially of danger to Habibullah, were kept by Habibullah as "practically state prisoners" confined in private quarters under the guise of protection by a strong detachment of the Imperial Bodyguard (Mohammed Omar Jar having been stripped of his own personal bodyguard – and state positions – by Habibullah in 1904).
The level of influence Nasrullah enjoyed led Angus Hamilton in his 1910 book Afghanistan to describe Habibullah as a "weak-willed" ruler, and the possibility of Nasrullah making an attempt on the throne caused Hamilton to describe him as a "stormy petrel in the Afghan sea of domestic politics".
Despite his earlier trip to England, Nasrullah demonstrated little sympathy for British foreign policy towards Afghanistan.
When Abdul Rahman Khan took the throne of Afghanistan in 1880, he inherited the terms of the 1878 Treaty of Gandamak, which made Afghanistan a British protectorate. The treaty, amongst other provisions, surrendered control over Afghan foreign relations to the British and allowed for a British mission, with European members, to reside in Kabul. Abdul Rahman Khan was able to alter the terms of the treaty to provide that all members of the British mission be Indian Muslims but was otherwise stuck with the treaty in its entirety.
The Treaty of Gandamak also required that Afghanistan sever its relationships with the independent tribes of the tribal regions of Afghanistan, those lying on the far side of the Durand Line. These tribes had previously been a substantial source of military power for the Afghanistan throne. When Habibullah became Emir he was pressured by the British government to ratify the Treaty of Gandamak and, although he did so by proclamation in 1905, he would not commit to withdraw Afghan influence from the British side of the Durand Line, or to sever Afghanistan's relationship with the tribes in that area.
The significance of the tribal areas was that they formed a natural military barrier against the British, who periodically threatened to invade the region to counter Russian advances from the north. Nasrullah Khan actively agitated his brother Habibullah to make use of Afghanistan's influence with the tribes to strengthen Afghanistan's position against the British, and at Nasrullah's urging Hasbibullah continue to pay allowances to the Durand Line tribes despite the Treaty of Gandamak.
At around the same time, during 1904–05, Sir Louis Dane (later governor of the Punjab region of India) attempted to establish a new British mission at Kabul in line with the terms of the Treaty. This was a plan which Nasrullah unsuccessfully opposed.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, the Young Afghan political movement, headed by journalist Mahmud Tarzi and Habibullah's son Amanullah, advocated that Afghanistan enter the war on the German-Turkish side, in direct opposition to Britain. In this they had the support of Nasrullah and the religious factions he represented, who were sympathetic towards the Ottomans because of what they saw as unwarranted infidel aggression towards Islamic states. Despite this, the Emir Habibullah Khan judged Afghanistan too poor and weak to realistically take part in the war, and declared Afghanistan's neutrality, to the frustration of Nasrullah and the Young Afghans.
Nevertheless Nasrullah actively used his political power to assist the German-Turkish efforts. When the Turko-German Niedermayer-Hentig expedition was welcomed to Kabul in 1915 (despite promises to the Viceroy of India that the expedition would be arrested), Nasrullah provided a friendly ear to the mission after Habibullah reaffirmed Afghanistan's neutrality. Nasrullah was involved in introducing the expedition to journalist Mahmud Tarzi, whose papers began taking an increasingly anti-British stance. He also continued to entreat the mission to remain in Kabul despite Habibullah's unwillingness to offer them a solid alliance. Finally in 1916 Nasrullah offered to remove Habibullah from power and take charge of the frontier tribes in a campaign against British India, but by then the mission realised such action would be fruitless and declined.
The Turko-German embassy withdrew in 1916, but not before it had convinced Habibullah that Afghanistan was an independent nation which should not remain beholden to the British. Following the closure of the World War, Habibullah petitioned the British for favours resulting from Afghanistan's alleged assistance to the British during the war. These favours included the recognition of Afghanistan's independence and a seat at the Versailles Peace Conference. Britain refused both these requests. Habibullah sought to open further negotiations but before these could progress he was assassinated.
In February 1919, Emir Habibullah Khan went on a hunting trip to Afghanistan's Laghman Province. Among those in his retinue were Nasrullah Khan, Habibullah's first son Inayatullah, and Habibullah's commander-in-chief Nadir Khan. On the evening of February 20, 1919, Habibullah was assassinated while in his tent by persons unknown, leaving Nasrullah the heir successor to the Afghan throne.
The remainder of Habibullah's party journeyed south-east to Jalalabad, and on February 21, 1919 reached that city, whereupon Nasrullah immediately declared himself Emir, supported by Habibullah's first son Inayatullah.
Upon receiving the news, Amanullah Khan, third son of Habibullah by Habibullah's first wife, immediately seized control of the treasury at Kabul and staged a coup. He took control of Kabul and the central government and imprisoned Nasrullah's supporters. On February 28, 1919, Amanullah proclaimed himself Emir, and on March 3, 1919 Nasrullah was arrested by Amanullah's forces.
On April 13, 1919, Amanullah held a Durbar (a royal court) in Kabul which inquired into the death of Habibullah. It found a colonel in the Afghanistan military guilty of the crime, and had him executed. It also found Nasrullah complicit in the assassination. Nasrullah was sentenced to life imprisonment, and was assassinated approximately one year later while in the royal jail.
The Kite Runner is a 2007 American drama film directed by Marc Forster based on the novel of the same name by Khaled Hosseini. It tells the story of Amir, a well-to-do boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, who is tormented by the guilt of abandoning his friend Hassan, the son of his father's Hazara servant. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan through the Soviet military intervention, the mass exodus of Afghan refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the Taliban regime.
Though most of the film is set in Afghanistan, these parts were mostly shot in Kashgar, China, due to the dangers of filming in Afghanistan at the time. The majority of the film's dialogue is in Dari, with the remainder spoken in English. The child actors are native speakers, but several adult actors had to learn Dari. Filming wrapped up on December 21, 2006, and the film was expected to be released on November 2, 2007. However, after concern for the safety of the young actors in the film due to fears of violent reprisals to the sexual nature of some scenes in which they appear, its release date was pushed back six weeks to December 14, 2007. The Kite Runner was released on DVD on March 25, 2008. A HD DVD release was announced for the same date, but was canceled following the format's demise.
The film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2007. The film's score by Alberto Iglesias was nominated for Best Original Score at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.
The film opens with an Afghan-American writer, Amir Qadiri (Khalid Abdalla), and his wife, Soraya (Atossa Leoni), who are watching children flying kites at a bayside park. When they arrive home, Amir finds waiting for him packages of his new novel, A Season for Ashes, which has just been published. Soraya refers to the book as Amir’s “baby,” hinting at the couple’s inability to have a child of their own.
Amir then receives an unexpected call from an old friend of his father’s, Rahim Khan (Shaun Toub), who is living in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Ten-year-old Amir (played as a child by Zekeria Ebrahimi) is the son of a wealthy man (Homayoun Ershadi), known locally by the honorific title “Agha Sahib”. (Amir refers to him as “Baba,” meaning “father.”) Baba, a philanthropist and iconoclast, is a Dari-speaking Tajik living in Pashtun-dominated Kabul. Amir’s best friend is Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmizada), who is the son of the Agha Sahib’s Hazara servant, Ali (Nabi Tanha).
Amir participates in the sport of kite fighting, popular among the boys of Kabul. Two kite flyers compete to cut each other’s kite strings, the defeated kite becoming the prize of the winner. Hassan serves as Amir’s spool-holder and “kite runner,” who retrieves the defeated kite. Hassan has the ability to determine where the loose kite will land without watching its course through the air. Hassan has deadly aim with his slingshot, and one day on Hassan’s birthday, Amir gives Hassan a slingshot made in America. Hassan pledges his loyalty to Amir, swearing that he would eat dirt if Amir so asked.
Amir also is a writer of stories, and he often reads his own stories or published stories to the illiterate Hassan. Hassan particularly likes to hear the story of Rostam and Sohrab from the Persian epic Shahnameh. Baba dislikes his son’s timid ways, and complains to his friend and business associate Rahim Khan that Amir doesn’t stand up for himself, letting Hassan fight his battles for him.
Amir overhears this conversation and Rahim Khan goes to Amir’s room to assure him that his father loves him. Amir says that he believes that his father resents him because Amir’s mother died in childbirth. Rahim Khan also encourages Amir to keep writing.
Amir and Hassan are often bullied by an older Pashtun boy, Assef (Elham Ehsas) and Assef’s two friends, who harbor ethnic hatred against Hazaras. Assef taunts Amir by saying that Amir has no friends but one that he pays to be his friend, Hassan. And Assef taunts Hassan by saying that Amir does not treat him as a true friend. Cornered one day by the three boys, Hassan protects Amir by threatening Assef with his slingshot. The bullies flee, but Assef promises revenge.
One day Amir enters the city-wide kite-fighting contest, and his father—who was a champion in his own youth—watches proudly from a balcony, accompanied by Rahim Khan, as Amir breaks his father’s record of 12 “kills.”
Hassan sprints off to “run” the last defeated kite and he is gone for some time. Eventually, Amir finds Hassan trapped in a dead-end by Assef and his two goons. Assef demands the kite as payment for letting Hassan go free, but Hassan refuses, asserting that the kite belongs to Amir. Amir watches the scene while concealed, too afraid to intervene. Assef then beats and anally rapes Hassan as his friends hold the boy down.
Amir flees from the scene, and later, when Hassan emerges, dripping blood, Amir pretends not to know what has occurred. Over the next few weeks, Amir, wracked with guilt, avoids Hassan, who spends all his free time in bed. Ali and Baba try to find out whether something has happened, but Amir pleads ignorance.
One day, Amir walks to a tree underneath which Amir often read stories to Hassan, and finds Hassan teaching himself to read. Amir accuses Hassan of cowardice, and throws pomegranates at him, daring Hassan to strike him. Hassan picks up a pomegranate and smashes it into his own face. Later, Amir asks his father whether he would consider replacing his servants Ali and Hassan. Baba angrily rebukes Amir, declaring that Ali has worked for the family for 40 years and that Ali and Hassan will always stay with them.
Baba throws a massive party for Amir’s birthday, but Amir is unable to enjoy it, watching Hassan serve the guests. Assef attends with his father, and Amir meekly accepts Assef’s gift and well-wishes. Rahim Khan, who presents Amir with a blank book for his stories, senses something is wrong and tells Amir that Amir can tell him anything.
The next day, Amir plants his wristwatch, a birthday present from his father, under Hassan’s pillow, and tells the Agha Sahib that Hassan has stolen it. When confronted by Baba, Hassan falsely confesses to stealing it. The Agha Sahib forgives him, but Ali lets him know that he and Hassan can no longer work for him, and, much to Baba's distress, they pack their belongings and leave.
In June 1979, the Soviet Union militarily intervenes. Baba is disliked by the Soviets for his frequent denunciation of the PDPA since the Saur Revolution. (He also drinks alcohol and smokes cigarettes and denounces the mullahs.) He leaves his house in the care of Rahim Khan and flees to Pakistan with Amir.
The travel by truck with other refugees and, along the way, they are stopped by a Soviet Army private, who demands sex with a young wife and mother who is among the refugees. Baba intervenes, daring the soldier to shoot him, but the situation is defused when the soldier’s major appear on the scene.
Baba runs a service station and operates a stall at a weekly flea market. Amir earns a degree at a local community college and, Baba, though disappointed that Amir wants to be a writer rather than a physician, says that Amir can earn money by working with him.
One day at the flea market, Amir’s father introduces him to General Taheri (Abdul Khadir Farookh), a Pathan (Indian Pashtun), and a former officer in the Afghan army. Amir is smitten by Taheri’s daughter, Soraya, but the very traditional Taheri, who has little regard for fiction writers, discourages his advances.
Soon after, Baba is diagnosed with lung cancer, and he becomes gravely ill. General Taheri and his family visit him at the hospital and Amir and Soraya manage to convey their interest in each other. Baba refuses to stay at the hospital and wishes to live his last days at home. After Amir brings him home, he asks his father to ask General Taheri for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Taheri agrees, but Amir’s father tells him that Soraya wants to speak with him.
On a chaperoned stroll, Soraya reveals that when the Taheris were living in Virginia, she ran away with a Pathan man and lived with him until her father came to retrieve her. Soon after, the Taheris moved to California to flee the gossip surrounding them. Amir is shocked, but he says that he still wants to be married.
Amir and Soraya are married, and, soon after, Amir’s father dies.
Rahim Khan persuades Amir to visit him in Pakistan, and tells him that the situation is bad, but Amir has an opportunity to “be good again.”
Amir cancels his book tour and goes to Peshawar. Rahim Khan tells Amir that he is dying, but that is not the real reason that he has asked Amir to come. Rahim Khan then tells Amir what happened after he and his father fled Afghanistan.
Rahim Khan managed the house, but a series of caretakers didn’t work out. He then located Hassan and persuaded him to return with his wife and their son to look after the house. Rahim Khan himself had to flee to Pakistan when his own health deteriorated and the Taliban took over power after the civil war from 1992 to 1996.
One day the Taliban appeared at the house and demanded that Hassan vacate the premises, declaring that no Hazara could be in legitimate possession of the house. Hassan refused to surrender the house and the Taliban executed him in the street, and also shot his wife. Hassan’s son, Sohrab, was taken to an orphanage.
Rahim Khan urges Amir to return to Kabul to find Sohrab and gives him a letter written by Hassan, who had taught himself to read and write. Amir resists until Rahim Khan reveals that Hassan was not really Ali’s biological son. Rahim Khan says that Amir’s father had had an affair with Ali’s wife and was the true biological father of Hassan.
Amir agrees to go to Kabul, accompanied by a driver, Farid (Saïd Taghmaoui), who helps him don a disguise and a fake beard and negotiate the Taliban-controlled city.
Amir and Farid go to the orphanage where Sohrab was taken and learn that Sohrab has been given away to a donor, a Taliban official, who occasionally takes away young boys. They are told that they can meet the Taliban official at a football match. Amir and Farid attend the match, where they witness the Taliban stoning adulterers at half-time. Amir manages to get an appointment to see the Taliban official.
After he arrives at the official’s house, he is surprised to find that it is actually Assef, the former bully (played now by Abdul Salam Yusoufzai), who recognizes Amir immediately even with the false beard.
Assef presents Sohrab as his dance boy. Assef agrees to let Sohrab go in exchange for a “price,” that is, a beating. Assef begins pummeling Amir, but in the confusion, Sohrab is able to pull out his slingshot, the same slingshot that Amir had given to Hassan when they were boys, and shoots Assef in the eye.
Sohrab and an injured Amir manage to escape through a window as Assef yells for help and orders their deaths. But the two get to Farid’s car and they escape.
When they get back to Peshawar, they find that Rahim Khan has left his apartment with no forwarding address, but he has left a letter for Amir. The next morning, Sohrab has disappeared, after Amir conducted his search for Sohrab without any luck, he returns to the apartment to find Sohrab sitting on the stairway. Sohrab reveals that Assef would rape him before morning prayers.
Back in San Francisco, Amir introduces Sohrab to Soraya, and they welcome him into their home. But Amir’s father-in-law, General Taheri, claiming he has to answer to their community, demands to know why they have taken in “that Hazara boy.” Amir reveals that Sohrab is his half-brother’s son.
The film ends with Amir teaching Sohrab how to fly kites, and volunteering to act as Sohrab’s “runner.”
Director Marc Forster mentions in the DVD commentary that in the book the servant boy, Hassan, has a harelip (cleft upper lip), but that was left out of the film because it would have required two hours of makeup every day, it would have been difficult for the boy to act in the makeup, he didn't want to put the boy through it, and it wasn't essential to the script.
Author Khaled Hosseini mentions in the commentary that the name on the door "Dr. Amani" is his homage to his medical school roommate. He mentions in the documentary "Words from the Kite Runner" also on the DVD that he, himself, was a practicing physician for eight and a half years before choosing to concentrate on writing after 'The Kite Runner' book became successful.
The three boys were age 11 and 12 at the time of the filming.
The film received generally positive reviews, earning a 66% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 165 reviews. On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 61 out of 100, based on 34 reviews.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times named it the 5th best film of 2007.
Though the child actors enjoyed making the film, they and their families expressed worries about their situation after the film's release. Regarding one scene, Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada (young Hassan) said, "I want to continue making films and be an actor but the rape scene upset me because my friends will watch it and I won't be able to go outside any more. They will think I was raped." The scene was depicted in a less harrowing manner than originally planned, with no nudity, and with the sexual aspect suggested only very briefly at the end of the scene. Even for that a body double was used. There were also fears of inter-tribal reprisals as Hassan was a Hazara and the boys who bullied and raped him were Pashtun.
Initially Zekeria Ebrahimi (young Amir) and Ahmad Mahmidzada were paid $17,500 each, and Ali Dinesh $13,700. Arguments were later made that the boys were underpaid. Additionally, Ebrahimi has said "We want to study in the United States. It's a modern country and more safe than here in Kabul. If I became rich here I would be worried about security. It's dangerous to have money because of the kidnapping." Paramount relocated the three child actors playing Amir, Hassan, and Sohrab, as well as another child actor with a minor role as Omar, to the United Arab Emirates. Reportedly the studio accepted responsibility for the boys' living expenses until they reach adulthood, a cost some estimated at up to 500,000 dollars.
After four months in Dubai, Ebrahimi and his aunt returned to Kabul in March 2008. After threats to his life, Ebrahimi was forced to remain indoors, home-schooled by an uncle. He has since claimed that he wishes he had never been in the movie.
The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner
Kabul (Kābul) (, ; Pashto: , IPA: ; Persian: , IPA: ), also spelled Cabool, Caubul, Kabol, or Cabul, mostly in historical contexts, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan. According to a 2012 estimate, the population of the city is 3,289,000. Kabul is the 64th largest and the 5th fastest growing city in the world.
The city serves as the nation's cultural and learning centre, situated 1,791 metres (5,876 ft) above sea level in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains along the Kabul River. It is linked with Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif via the circular Highway 1 that stretches across Afghanistan. It is also the start of the main road to Jalalabad and further to Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Kabul International Airport is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from the center of the city, next to the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood. Bagram Airfield is about 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Kabul.
Kabul's main products include fresh and dried fruit, nuts, beverages, Afghan rugs, leather and sheep skin products, furniture, antique replicas, and domestic clothes. The wars since 1978 have limited the city's economic productivity but after the establishment of the Karzai administration in late 2001 some progress has been made.
Kabul is over 3,500 years old; many empires have long fought over the valley for its strategic location along the trade routes of South and Central Asia. It made up the eastern end of the Median Empire before becoming part of the Achaemenid Empire. In 331 BC, Alexander the Great defeated the Achaemenids and the area became part of the Seleucid Empire followed by the Maurya Empire. By the 1st century AD it became the capital of the Kushan Empire. It was later controlled by the Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, and others.
Between 1504 and 1526 AD, it served as the capital of Babur, founder of the Mughal Empire. It remained under the rule of the Mughal Emperors as the western capital until 1738 when Nader Shah and his Afsharid forces seized it from the Mughals. After the death of Nader Shah Afsharid in 1747, the city fell to Ahmad Shah Durrani, who added it to his new Afghan Empire. In 1776, Timur Shah Durrani made it the capital of the modern state of Afghanistan. It was invaded several times by neighboring British-Indian forces during the Anglo-Afghan wars in the 19th century. After the outbreak of the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919, the city was air raided by the Royal Air Force of British India.
Since the Marxist revolution in 1978, the city has been a target of Pakistan-backed militant groups such as the mujahideen, Taliban, Haqqani network, Hezbi Islami, and others. While the Afghan government tries to rebuild the war-torn city, insurgents have continued to stage major attacks not only against the Afghan government and NATO-led forces but also against foreign diplomats and Afghan civilians.
The word "Kubhā" is mentioned in Rigveda and the Avesta and appears to refer to the Kabul River. The Rigveda praises it as an ideal city, a vision of paradise set in the mountains. The area in which the Kabul valley sits was ruled by the Medes before falling to the Achaemenids. There is a reference to a settlement called Kabura by the rulers of the Achaemenid Empire,][ which may be the basis for the future use of the name Kabura (Κάβουρα) by Ptolemy. It became a centre of Zoroastrianism followed by Buddhism and Hinduism.][ Alexander the Great explored the Kabul valley after his conquest of the Achaemenid Empire in 330 BC but no record has been made of Kabul, which may have been only a small town and not worth writing about. The region became part of the Seleucid Empire but was later gifted to the Indian Maurya Empire.
The Greco-Bactrians captured Kabul from the Mauryans in the early 2nd century BC, then lost the city to their subordinates in the Indo-Greek Kingdom around the mid-2nd century BC. Indo-Scythians expelled the Indo-Greeks by the mid 1st century BC, but lost the city to the Kushan Empire about 100 years later.
Some historians ascribe Kabul the Sanskrit name of Kamboja (Kamboj). It is mentioned as Kophes or Kophene in some classical writings. Hsuan Tsang refers to the name as Kaofu in the 7th century AD, which is the appellation of one of the five tribes of the Yuezhi who had migrated from across the Hindu Kush into the Kabul valley around the beginning of the Christian era. It was conquered by Kushan Emperor Kujula Kadphises in about 45 AD and remained Kushan territory until at least the 3rd century AD. The Kushans were Indo-European-speaking Tocharians from the Tarim Basin.
Around 230 AD, the Kushans were defeated by the Sassanid Empire and replaced by Sassanid vassals known as the Indo-Sassanids. During the Sassanian period, the city was referred to as "Kapul" in Pahlavi scripts. In 420 AD the Indo-Sassanids were driven out of Afghanistan by the Xionite tribe known as the Kidarites, who were then replaced in the 460s by the Hephthalites. It became part of the surviving Turk Shahi Kingdom of Kapisa, also known as Kabul-Shahan. According to Táríkhu-l Hind by Al-Biruni, Kabul was governed by princes of Turkic lineage whose rule lasted for about 60 generations.
The Kabul rulers built a long defensive wall around the city to protect it from enemy raids. This historical wall has survived until today.
The Islamic conquest reached modern-day Afghanistan in 642 AD, at a time when Kabul was independent. A number of failed expeditions were made to Islamize the region. In one of them, Abdur Rahman bin Samana arrived to Kabul from Zaranj in the late 7th century and managed to convert 12,000 local inhabitants to Islam before abandoning the city. Muslims were a minority until Ya'qub bin Laith as-Saffar of Zaranj conquered Kabul in 870 and established the first Islamic dynasty in the region. It was reported that the rulers of Kabul were Muslims with non-Muslims living close by.
Over the centuries to come, the city was successively controlled by the Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, and Khiljis. In the 13th century the Mongol horde passed through and caused massive destruction in the area. Report of a massacre in the close by Bamiyan is recorded around this period, where the entire population of the valley was annihilated by the Mongol troops as a revenge for the death of Genghis Khan's grandson. During the Mongol invasion, many natives of Afghanistan fled to India where some established dynasties in Delhi.
Following the era of the Khilji dynasty in 1333, the famous Moroccan scholar Ibn Battuta was visiting Kabul and wrote:
In the 14th century, Kabul became a major trading centre under the kingdom of Timur (Tamerlane). In 1504, the city fell to Babur from the north and made into his headquarters, which became one of the principal cities of his later Mughal Empire. In 1525, Babur described Kabulistan in his memoirs by writing that:
Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat, a poet from Hindustan who visited at the time wrote: "Dine and drink in Kabul: it is mountain, desert, city, river and all else." It was from here that Babur began his 1526 conquest of Hindustan, which was ruled by the Afghan Lodi dynasty and began east of the Indus River in what is present-day Pakistan. Babur loved Kabul due to the fact that he lived in it for 20 years and the people were loyal to him, including its weather that he was used to. His wish to be buried in Kabul was finally granted. The inscription on his tomb contains penned Persian words which state: اگرفردوس روی زمین است همین است و همین است و همین است (If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this!)
Nader Shah Afshar invaded and occupied the city briefly in 1738 but was assassinated nine years later. Ahmad Shah Durrani, commander of 4,000 Abdali Afghans, asserted Pashtun rule in 1747 and further expanded his new Afghan Empire. His ascension to power marked the beginning of Afghanistan. His son Timur Shah Durrani, after inheriting power, transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul in 1776, and used Peshawar in what is today Pakistan as the winter capital. Timur Shah died in 1793 and was succeeded by his son Zaman Shah Durrani. Kabul's first visitor from Europe was Englishman George Foster, who described 18th-century Kabul as "the best and cleanest city in Asia".
In 1826, the kingdom was claimed by Dost Mohammad Khan but in 1839 Shujah Shah Durrani was re-installed with the help of British India during the First Anglo-Afghan War. An 1841 local uprising resulted in the loss of the British mission and the subsequent death of 16,500 British-led Indian forces, which included soldiers and camp followers while retreating from Kabul to Jalalabad. In 1842 the British returned, plundering Bala Hissar in revenge before fleeing back to British India (now Pakistan). Akbar Khan took to the throne from 1842 to 1845 who was followed by Dost Mohammad Khan.
The British-led Indian forces invaded in 1878 as Kabul was under Sher Ali Khan's rule, but the British residents were again massacred. The British returned in 1879 under General Roberts, partially destroying Bala Hissar before retreating to British India. Amir Abdur Rahman Khan was left in control of the country.
In the early 20th century King Amanullah Khan rose to power. His reforms included electricity for the city and schooling for girls. He drove a Rolls-Royce, and lived in the famous Darul Aman Palace. In 1919, after the Third Anglo-Afghan War, Amanullah announced Afghanistan's independence from foreign affairs at Eidgah Mosque. In 1929 King Ammanullah left Kabul due to a local uprising orchestrated by Habibullah Kalakani. After nine months rule, Kalakani was imprisoned and executed by King Nader Khan. Three years later, in 1933, the new king was assassinated by a Hazara student Abdul Khaliq during an award ceremony inside a school in Kabul. The throne was left to his 19-year-old son, Zahir Shah, who became the long lasting King of Afghanistan.
During this period between the two World Wars, France and Germany worked to help develop the country in both the technical and educational spheres. Both countries maintained high schools and lycees in the capital and provided an education for the children of elite families. Kabul University opened in 1932 and soon was linked to both European and American universities, as well as universities in other Muslim countries in the field of Islamic studies. By the 1960s the majority of instructors at the university had degrees from Western universities.
When Zahir Shah took power in 1933 Kabul had the only 6 miles of rail in the country, few internal telegraph or phone lines and few roads. He turned to the Japanese, Germans and Italians for help developing a modern network of communications and roads. A radio tower built by the Germans in 1937 in Kabul allowed instant communication with outlying villages. A national bank and state cartels were organized to allow for economic modernization. Textile mills, power plants and carpet and furniture factories were also built in Kabul, providing much needed manufacturing and infrastructure.
In 1955, the Soviet Union forwarded $100 million in credit to Afghanistan, which financed public transportation, airports, a cement factory, mechanized bakery, a five-lane highway from Kabul to the Soviet border and dams.
In the 1960s, Kabul developed a cosmopolitan mood. The first Marks & Spencer store in Central Asia was built there. Kabul Zoo was inaugurated in 1967, which was maintained with the help of visiting German zoologists. Many foreigners began flocking to Kabul with the increase in global air travels around that time. The nation's tourism industry was starting to pick up rapidly for the first time. Kabul experimented with liberalization, dropping laws requiring women to wear the burka, restrictions on speech and assembly loosened which led to student politics in the capital. Socialist, Maoist and liberal factions demonstrated daily in Kabul while more traditional Islamic leaders spoke out against the failure to aid the Afghan countryside.
In 1969 a religious uprising at the Pul-e Khishti Mosque protested the Soviet Union's increasing influence over Afghan politics and religion. This protest ended in the arrest of many of its organizers, including Mawlana Faizani, a popular Islamic scholar. In the early 1970s Radio Kabul began to broadcast in other languages besides Pashto which helped to unify those minorities that often felt marginalized. However, this was put to a stop after Daoud Khan's revolution in 1973.
In July 1973, while King Zahir Shah was visiting Europe, his cousin Daoud Khan who served as Prime Minister took over as leader in Kabul. This was supported by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), a pro-Soviet political party. Daoud named himself President and planned to institute reforms. By 1975, the young Ahmad Shah Massoud and his followers initiated an uprising in Panjshir but were forced to flee to neighboring Pakistan where they received recruitment from Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to create unrest in Afghanistan with the help of Pakistan's ISI spy agency. Bhutto paved the way for the April 1978 Saur Revolution in Kabul by making Daoud spread his armed forces to the countryside. "To launch this plan, Bhutto recruited and trained a group of Afghans in the Bala-Hesar of Peshawar, in Pakistan's North-west Frontier Province. Among these young men were Massoud, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and other members of Jawanan-e Musulman. Massoud's mission to Bhutto was to create unrest in northern Afghanistan. It served Massoud's interests, which were apparently opposition to the Soviets and independence for Afghanistan. Later, after Massoud and Hekmatyar had a terrible falling-out over Massoud's opposition to terrorist tactics and methods, Massoud overthrew from Jawanan-e Musulman. He joined Rabani's newly created Afghan political party, Jamiat-i-Islami, in exile in Pakistan."
Kabul's people describe the period before the April 1978 Revolution as sort of a golden age. All the different ethnic groups of Afghanistan lived together harmoniously and thought of themselves first and foremost as Afghans. They intermarried and mixed socially. In the later years of his leadership, Daoud began to shift favour from the Soviet Union to Islamic nations, expressing admiration for their wealth from oil and expecting economic aid from them to quickly surpass that of the Soviet Union. The slow speed of reforms however frustrated both the Western educated elite and the Russian-trained army officers.
On April 28, 1978, President Daoud and his family along with many of his supporters were assassinated in Kabul. Pro-Soviet PDPA under Hafizullah Amin seized power and slowly began to institute reforms. Private businesses were nationalized in the Soviet manner. Education was modified into the Soviet model, with lessons focusing on teaching Russian, Leninism-Marxism and learning of other countries belonging to the Soviet bloc. Foreign-backed rebel groups and army deserters took up arms in the name of Islam.
In February 1979, U.S. Ambassador Adolph Dubs was murdered after Afghan security forces burst in on his kidnappers. In neighboring Pakistan, President Zulfiqar Bhutto was executed in April 1979. In September 1979 Afghan President Nur Muhammad Taraki was assassinated by a team of Soviet Spetsnaz inside the Tajbeg Palace in Kabul. On December 24, 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and Kabul was heavily occupied by Soviet Armed Forces. Following this invasion, Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq chaired a meeting in Islamabad and was told by several cabinet members to refrain from interfering in Afghanistan. Zia-ul-Haq, fearing that the Soviets may be advancing into Pakistan, particularly Balochistan, made no secret about his intentions of aiding the mujahideen rebel groups. During this meeting, Director-General of the ISI Akhtar Abdur Rahman advocated for the idea of covert operation in Afghanistan by arming the Islamic extremists. General Rahman was heard loudly saying: "Kabul must burn! Kabul must burn!", and mastered the idea of proxy war in Afghanistan. President Zia-ul-Haq authorised this operation under General Rahman, and it was later merged with Operation Cyclone, a programme funded by the United States.
The Soviets turned the city of Kabul into their command centre during the 10-year conflict between pro-Soviet Afghan government and the Mujahideen rebels, who were funded by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Kabul remained relatively calm during that period as fighting was mostly in the countryside and in other major cities. In April 1988, the Geneva Accords were signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the United States and the Soviet Union serving as guarantors. In August 1988, President Zia-ul-Haq, General Rahman and other top Pakistani officials, including U.S. Ambassador Arnold Lewis Raphel, were killed in a mysterious plane crash in neighboring Pakistan. The American Embassy in Kabul closed in January 1989.
"The Mujahideen continued to fight against the government of Najibullah, the Soviet puppet president who had replaced Babrak Karmal in 1986. Najibullah had proposed cease fires during those years, but the rebels said they would not negotiate with puppets - and they gained ground strategically until the Soviets admitted defeat and left." After the fall of Najibullah's Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in April 1992, leaders of the different mujahideen factions were unable to form a government so they resorted to fighting.
Pakistan supplied Hezbi Islami forces of Hekmatyar, Iran supported the Shi'a Hezbe Wahdat forces of Abdul Ali Mazari, and Saudi Arabia backed Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. "Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held hotly contested meetings with the ISI chief, his other ministers, and the Mujahideen in Peshawar and the Hezbi Islami faction, headed by Hekmatyar, who was deeply loyal to the Pakistani military dictatorship. Hekmatyar's troops started firing mortats into Kabul. Najibullah took refuge in the UN compound after being stopped by General Dostum's forces from boarding a United Nations airplane at the Kabul airport. On April 24, the Afghan army and the Mujahideen took Kabul peacefully, and throughout the city the various factions staked out zones of control."
The 1992 Peshawar Accords created the Islamic State of Afghanistan and appointed Burhanuddin Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik, as head of a transitional government to be followed by general elections. Another ethnic Tajik, Ahmad Shah Massoud, became Defense Minister and the Pashtun Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as Prime Minister. After the interim period expired, Rabbani, founder and leader of Jamiat-e Islami, which is connected to Pakistan's Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, refused to step down and a full-scale civil war began. Amin Saikal explains that under Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif "Pakistan was keen to gear up for a breakthrough in Central Asia. ... Islamabad could not possibly expect the new Islamic government leaders ... to subordinate their own nationalist objectives in order to help Pakistan realize its regional ambitions. ... Had it not been for the ISI's logistic support and supply of a large number of rockets, Hekmatyar's forces would not have been able to target and destroy half of Kabul."
In December 1992, the last of the 86 city trolley buses in Kabul came to a halt because of the conflict. A system of 800 public buses continued to provide transportation services to the city. By 1993 electricity and water in the city was completely out. Initially the factions in the city aligned to fight off Hekmatyar but diplomacy inside the capital quickly broke down. Saudi Arabia and Iran also guided Afghan factions.
Additionally to the bombardment campaign conducted by Hekmatyar and Dostum, tension between the Shi'a Hazara forces of Abdul Ali Mazari and the Wahabi Ittihad-i Islami of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf soon escalated into a second violent conflict. The fighting between the two factions quickly took on aspects of "ethnic cleansing". According to Human Rights Watch, numerous Iranian agents were assisting Hezbe Wahdat, as "Iran was attempting to maximize Wahdat's military power and influence in the new government". Saudi agents "were trying to strengthen the Wahhabi Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and his Ittihad-i Islami faction to the same end". A publication with the George Washington University describes "Outside forces saw instability in Afghanistan as an opportunity to press their own security and political agendas." Human Rights Watch writes that "Rare ceasefires, usually negotiated by representatives of Ahmad Shah Massoud, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi or Burhanuddin Rabbani (the interim government), or officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), commonly collapsed within days."
In January 1994, Dostum joined an alliance with Hekmatyar and conducted the worst bombardment of Kabul during that period, but were eventually repelled by forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud. In late 1994, bombardment of the capital came to a temporary halt. These forces took steps to restore law and order. Courts started to work again, convicting individuals inside government troops who had committed crimes. Massoud tried to initiate a nationwide political process with the goal of national consolidation and democratic elections, also inviting the Pashtun nationalist Taliban from southern Afghanistan to join the process but the idea was rejected by them.
The Taliban started shelling Kabul in early 1995 but were repelled at first by forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud. (see video) Amnesty International, referring to the Taliban offensive, wrote in a 1995 report that "This is the first time in several months that Kabul civilians have become the targets of rocket attacks and shelling aimed at residential areas in the city." The Taliban's early victories in 1994 were followed by a series of defeats that resulted in heavy losses. Pakistan provided strong support to the Taliban. Many described the Taliban as developing into a proxy force for Pakistan's regional interests.
On September 26, 1996, as the Taliban with military support by Pakistan and financial support by Saudi Arabia prepared for another major offensive, Massoud ordered a full retreat from Kabul and fled north. The Taliban seized Kabul on September 27, 1996, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Taliban publicly lynched former president Najibullah and his brother to death, this made many Afghans angry. The Taliban also imposed on Afghans their political and judicial interpretation of Islam issuing edicts especially targeting women. The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) analyze:
The Taliban, without any real court or hearing, conducted amputations against common thieves. Taliban hit-squads from the infamous "Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" watched the streets conducting arbitrary brutal and public beatings of people.
Massoud and his former enemy Dostum later formed the Northern Alliance against the Pakistani-backed Taliban who were violating human rights on a mass scale. The National Geographic concluded that "The only thing standing in the way of future Taliban massacres is Ahmad Shah Massoud." Many at first welcomed the Taliban but later began to realize that they were another Pakistani-created force determined to turn Afghans into slaves and ultimately end Afghanistan.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf – then as Chief of Army Staff – was responsible for sending large number of Pakistanis to fight alongside the Taliban. According to regional expert Ahmed Rashid, "between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan" on the side of the Taliban. During that period many Afghan women were being kidnapped and then sold to Arab or Pakistani men. The al-Qaeda of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri became a state within the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with Bin Laden controlling Kabul and the eastern city of Jalalabad. In the meantime, Taliban supreme leader Mohammed Omar stayed in Kandahar and has never been to Kabul.
In October 2001, US-led forces provided air support to the Northern Alliance (United Front) forces during Operation Enduring Freedom. The Taliban began abandoning Kabul while the United Front was heading to take control of the government. In December 2001, the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai officially took over the government.
In early 2002, a NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was deployed in the city and from there they spread to other parts of the country. The war-torn city began to see some positive development as millions of ex-pats returned to the country. The city's population has grown from about 500,000 in 2001 to 3 million by 2007. Many foreign embassies re-opened, including the U.S. Embassy. Afghan government institutions were also renovated. Since 2008 the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are in charge of security in the city.
While the city is being developed, it is the scene of occasional deadly suicide bombings and explosions carried out by the Haqqani network, Taliban's Quetta Shura, Hezbi Islami, al-Qaeda, and other anti-government elements who are claimed to be supported and guided by Pakistan. For example, in September 2011, heavily armed Taliban insurgents wearing suicide vests struck the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters. In the December 2011 Ashura bombing over 70 civilians were killed and over 160 injured. Many other similar attacks took place after the 2008 ISAF hand-over of security to Afghan security forces. Some of the targets were the Kabul International Airport, Serena Hotel, Kabul City Center, Inter-Continental Hotel, UN guest house, the Presidential Palace, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice, Indian Embassy, Afghan National Police stations, supermarkets, residence of Burhanuddin Rabbani, guest house of Asadullah Khalid, and other top Afghan officials.
According to Transparency International, the government of Afghanistan is the third most-corrupt in the world. Many decision makers in Kabul are not only poorly educated but negatively influenced by neighboring Iran and Pakistan. Experts believe that the poor decisions of Afghan politicians contribute to the unrest in the region. This also prevents foreign investment in Afghanistan, especially by Western countries. When five American soldiers burned several copies of Quran at nearby Bagram Airfield in 2012, politicians in Kabul showed their personal anger in the media. Ordinary Afghans may have taken cues from their leaders and taken more offense at the incident than they otherwise might have. As the Afghan government rushes into taking over security responsibility from NATO the security situation in the country is deteriorating. In 2012, it forced the United States to hand over control of the Parwan Detention Facility where thousands of militants are held. The United States had favored a gradual transition of the facility until 2014.
Kabul has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk) with precipitation concentrated in the winter (almost exclusively falling as snow) and spring months. Temperatures are relatively cool compared to much of Southwest Asia, mainly due to the high elevation of the city. Summer has very low humidity, providing relief from the heat. Autumn features warm afternoons and sharply cooler evenings. Winters are cold, with a January daily average of . Spring is the wettest time of the year, though temperatures are generally amiable. Sunny conditions dominate year-round. The annual mean temperature is .
The Mayor of the city is selected by the President of Afghanistan, who engages in planning and environmental work. The police belong to the Afghan Ministry of Interior and are arranged by city districts. The Chief of Police is selected by the Minister of Interior and is responsible for law enforcement and security of the city. Muhammad Yunus Nawandish was appointed as Mayor of Kabul by the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in January, 2010, and governs a City of an estimated five million in population. Since taking office, the Mayor has initiated an aggressive program of municipal improvements in streets, parks, greenery, revenue collection, environmental control, and solid waste management.
The city of Kabul is one of the 15 districts of Kabul Province, which is further divided into 18 city districts or sectors. Each city district covers several neighbourhoods. The number of districts or sectors in Kabul increased from 11 to 18 in 2005.
Below are some of Kabul's neighbourhoods listed:
This list is incomplete and may be incorrect. You can help by expanding it.
This list might also have issues with phonetically reading from Persian to English. Please discuss this matter on the discussion page and improve
Unspecified If you know where it is located (north, south etc.) please fix this
The population of Kabul has fluctuated since the early 1980s to the present period. It was believed to be around 500,000 in 2001 but then many Afghan expats began returning from Pakistan and Iran where they had taken refuge from the decades of wars. According to a 2012 official estimate, the total population of the city was 3,289,000. The World Factbook estimated in 2009 that Kabul's population was little over 3.5 million
The population of the city reflects the general multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual characteristics of Afghanistan. There is no official government report on the exact ethnic make-over. According to a 2003 report in the National Geographic, the population of the city consisted of 45% Tajiks, 15% Hazaras, 25% Pashtuns, 10% Uzbeks, 1% Baloch, 3% Turkmen, and 1% Hindu. Dari (Afghan Persian) and persian are the most widely used languages in the city, although Afghan Persian serves as the lingua franca.
Nearly all the people of Kabul are Muslim, which includes the majority Sunnis and minority Shias. A small number of Sikhs, Hindus, and Christians are also found in the city.
Kabul International Airport, located 25 kilometres (16 mi) from the centre of Kabul, is the country's main airport. It is a hub to Ariana Afghan Airlines, the national airlines carrier of Afghanistan, as well as private airlines such as Kam Air, Pamir Airways, and Safi Airways. Regional airlines such as Turkish Airlines, Gulf Air, Indian Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Iranian Airlines, and others also make frequent stops at Kabul International Airport. A new international terminal was built by the government of Japan and began operation since 2008, which is the first of three terminals to be opened so far. The other two will open once air traffic to the city increases. Passengers coming from most foreign nations use mostly Dubai for flights to Kabul. Kabul Airport also has a military terminal and a section of airport is used by the United States armed forces and the Afghan National Air Force. NATO also uses the Kabul Airport, but most military traffic is based at Bagram Airfield, situated north of Kabul. The Afghan Border Police and the Afghan National Police are in charge of the airport security.
Kabul has no train service yet but the government plans to build rail lines to connect the city with Mazar-i-Sharif in the north and Jalalabad-Torkham in the east. It also plans to build a metro rail in the future.
Long distance road journeys are made by private Mercedes-Benz coach buses or various types of vans, trucks and cars. Although a nation wide bus service is available from Kabul, flying is safer, especially for foreigners. The city's public bus service (Milli Bus / "National Bus") was established in the 1960s to take commuters on daily routes to many destinations. The service currently has about 800 buses, but it is gradually expanding and upgrading the fleet. The Kabul bus system has recently discovered a new source of revenue in whole-bus advertising from MTN similar to "bus wrap" advertising on public transit in more developed nations. There is also an express bus that runs from the city centre to Kabul International Airport for Safi Airways passengers. There are also white and yellow older model Toyota Corolla taxicabs just about every where in the city.
Private vehicles are on the rise in Kabul, with Toyota, Nissan, and other dealerships in the city. People are buying new cars as the roads and highways are being improved. Most drivers in Kabul prefer owning a Toyota Corolla, one of Afghanistan's most popular cars. It has been reported that up to 90% of cars in Kabul are Corollas. Gas stations are mainly private-owned and the fuel comes from Pakistan, Iran and Kazakhstan. Bicycles on the road are a common sight in the city.
There are approximately 16 licensed banks in Kabul: including Da Afghanistan Bank, Afghanistan International Bank, Kabul Bank, Azizi Bank, Pashtany Bank, Afghan United Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Punjab National Bank, Habib Bank and others. Western Union offices are also found in many locations throughout the city.
About 4 miles (6 km) from downtown Kabul, in Bagrami, a 22-acre (9 ha) wide industrial complex has completed with modern facilities, which will allow companies to operate businesses there. The park has professional management for the daily maintenance of public roads, internal streets, common areas, parking areas, 24 hours perimeter security, access control for vehicles and persons. A number of factories operate there, including the $25 million Coca-Cola bottling plant and the Omaid Bahar juice factory.
A number of indoor shopping centers have opened in the last decade. This includes the Kabul City Center, which also serves as a 4-star holel (Safi Landmark Hotel). The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) opened a 5-star Serena Hotel in the same year, while the landmark Inter-Continental has been refurbished. The AKDN was also involved in the restoration work of the Bagh-e Babur (Babur Gardens). Another 5-star Marriott Hotel is under construction next to the U.S. Embassy.
GSM/GPRS mobile phone services in the city are provided by Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, Roshan and MTN. In November 2006, the Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a $64.5 million US dollar deal with ZTE on the establishment of a countrywide fibre optical cable network to help improve telephone, internet, television and radio broadcast services not just in Kabul but throughout the country. Internet cafes were introduced in 2002 and has been expanding throughout the country. As of 2012, 3G services are also available.
The city has many local-language radio and television stations, including in Pashto and Dari (Persian). The Afghan government has become increasingly intolerant of foreign channels and the un-Islamic culture they bring, and has threatened to ban some.
There are a number of post offices throughout the city. Package delivery services like FedEx, TNT N.V., and DHL are also available.
Public and private schools in the city have reopened since 2002 after they were shut down or destroyed during fighting in the 1980s to the late 1990s. Boys and girls are strongly encouraged to attend school under the Karzai administration but many more schools are needed not only in Kabul but throughout the country. The Afghan Ministry of Education has plans to build more schools in the coming years so that education is provided to all citizens of the country. The most well known high schools in Kabul include:
The city's colleges and universities were renovated after 2002. Some of them have been developed recently, while others have existed since the early 1900s.
The old part of Kabul is filled with bazaars nestled along its narrow, crooked streets. Cultural sites include: the National Museum of Afghanistan, notably displaying an impressive statue of Surya excavated at Khair Khana, the ruined Darul Aman Palace, the tomb of Mughal Emperor Babur at Bagh-e Babur, and Chehlstoon Park, the Minar-i-Istiqlal (Column of Independence) built in 1919 after the Third Afghan War, the mausoleum of Timur Shah Durrani, and the imposing Id Gah Mosque (founded 1893). Bala Hissar is a fort destroyed by the British in 1879, in retaliation for the death of their envoy, now restored as a military college. The Minaret of Chakari, destroyed in 1998, had Buddhist swastika and both Mahayana and Theravada qualities.
Other places of interest include Kabul City Center, which is Kabul's first shopping mall, the shops around Flower Street and Chicken Street, Wazir Akbar Khan district, Kabul Golf Club, Kabul Zoo, Abdul Rahman Mosque, Shah-Do Shamshira and other famous mosques, the National Gallery of Afghanistan, the National Archives of Afghanistan, Afghan Royal Family Mausoleum, the OMAR Mine Museum, Bibi Mahro Hill, Kabul Cemetery, and Paghman Gardens.
Tappe-i-Maranjan is a nearby hill where Buddhist statues and Graeco-Bactrian coins from the 2nd century BC have been found. Outside the city proper is a citadel and the royal palace. Paghman and Jalalabad are interesting valleys north and east of the city.
In late 2007 the government announced that all the residential houses situated on mountains would be removed within a year so that trees and other plants can be grown on the hills. The plan calls for a greener city and to provide residents with a more suitable place to live, on a flat surface. Once implemented it will provide water supply and electricity to each house. All the city roads will also be paved under the plan, which is to solve transportation problems.
The Afghan capital Kabul, symbolizing the spirits of all Afghans and international cooperation, sets at the heart of this highly resourceful region, with great potential to turn into a business hub for all. After 2002, the new geo-political dynamics and its subsequent business opportunities, rapid urban population growth and emergence of high unemployment, triggered the planning of urban extension towards the immediate north of Kabul, in the form of a new city.
In 2006, Engineer Mohammad Yousef Pashtun the then Minister of Urban Development got the approval from President Hamid Karzai to establish an Independent Board for the Development of Kabul New City. The Board brings together key stakeholders, including relevant government agencies, as well as representation from private sector and urban specialists and economists, with cooperation from the government of Japan and French Private sector, the board prepared a master plan for the city in the context of Greater Kabul. The master plan and its implementation strategy for 2025 were endorsed by the Afghan Cabinet in early 2009. Soon, as a top priority, the initiative turned into one of the biggest commercially viable national development project of the country, expected to be led by the private sector. A number of high rise buildings are being planned and constructed across Kabul, as part of the attempt to modernize the city.
An initial concept design called the City of Light Development, envisioned by Dr. Hisham N. Ashkouri, for the development and the implementation of a privately based investment enterprise has been proposed for multi-function commercial, historic and cultural development within the limits of the Old City of Kabul, along the southern side of the Kabul River and along Jade Meywand Avenue, revitalizing some of the most commercial and historic districts in the City. Also incorporated in the design is a new complex for the National Museum of Afghanistan. A Memorandum of understanding has been signed between Dr. Ashkouri and Said Tayeb Jawad to undertake the project and to develop it for actual implementation over the next 20 years. Dr. Ashkouri has also presented the plan to President Karzai and has received a letter of support from the president and the Minister of Urban Development.
The Mayor of Kabul Muhammad Yunus Nawandish has brought many municipal reform efforts by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s “Kabul City Initiative” project, the World Bank, Japanese Government JICA and other International Donors to build municipal capacity, improve service delivery and infrastructure, and increase municipal revenue for a cleaner and greener Kabul. The city's major Projects include a Kabul cable car, connecting the city to Shirdarwaza mountain, a tunnel though mountains close to Kabul university to reduce traffic jams, building more flyovers in the city with the city's first fly-over being built with the help of Turkey; in addition to providing more trucks and lorries for the municipality.
Numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs), both national and international, are based in Kabul, conducting various activities to assist development in Afghanistan and provide humanitarian relief to the many victims which 30 years of war have produced.
Afghanistan Information Management Services (AIMS) provides software development, capacity development, information management, and project management services to the Afghan Government and other NGOs, thereby supporting their on-the-ground activities.
The We Are the Future (WAF) Center is a child care centre whose aim is to give children a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of hope. The centre is managed under the direction of the mayor's office and the international NGO. Glocal Forum serves as the fundraiser, program planner and coordinator for the WAF centre. Launched in 2004, the program is the result of a strategic partnership between the Glocal Forum, the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation and Mr. Hani Masri, with the support of the World Bank, UN agencies and major companies.