|A plot of okra near Sayad in Balkh district of |
The major layers I have encountered are political, religious, tribal, community, and family. I believe there are more. When working here as an outsider you must have someone you trust to help guide you through these layers and help you establish the right relationships. If you don't, difficulties will become apparent quickly.
|Farmer practicing mixed culture of fruit trees and a variety|
of vegetables including tomato, squash, melon, okra,
and others. His fields were healthy, few diseases, few
insect problems and producing excellent produce.
Another layer in this society you must deal with is the religion. There is conflict here between the largely Sunni Muslims and the Shia, made up mostly of Hazara. This land was not always Muslim. If you remember the Buddha statues that were destroyed by the Taliban in Bamiyan Province a short distance from where I am. This place had its own form of Buddhism, different from Indian and Chinese Buddhism on its borders.
|Children helping in the field picking tomatoes for the market|
Another layer that you must peel away is policial. This is the fight that is going on now. The Karzai government is viewed by many conservative Muslims as an infidel government, basically made up of muslims who are not really muslims at all, not really "human". Since their scriptures forbid the killing of humans, if a religion proclaims you are not "human" then killing is permitted .... and even encouraged and rewarded in many ways.
|Farmers roadside stand Afghan style|
Pakistan works through largely the Pashtun network of Pashtun villages and mullahs or religious leaders. Even though President Karzai is Pashtun, ultra conservative Muslims such as the Talibabn regard him as an infidel, an nonhuman and deserving to be killed and the government he represents to be destroyed. Ultra conservative Muslim are bent on bringing down the Karzai government through suicide bombings (like the one which occured Balkh district in Balkh Province just a short time ago).