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Talk:Afghanistan

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Map[edit]

The following map is not used in the article:

Yes it is. Also in Nurestan article. Pashley 00:22, 13 October 2006 (EDT)

Jalalabad major city?[edit]

I moved Jalalabad out of the "major cities" list. Our Wikitravel:World cities with 100K population or more gives only four in Af. Pashley 20:11, 11 October 2006 (EDT)

In the last census (2002), Jalalabad had 96000 people in the city itself. When you add in the population immediately around the city, that jumps up to 181000. It is generally considered within Afghanistan that the 4 major cities (plus Kabul) include Jalalabad. I tink it would have been better to leave it where it was. Davidbstanley 15:45, 12 October 2006 (EDT)
  • OK I moved it back. I was last there in 1970s, so am willing to be overrulled by people with more recent info. Pashley 00:22, 13 October 2006 (EDT)

Safest regions to mention?[edit]

The other day, I stumbled across a book from my local bookstore about traveling to Afghanistan. Although it did say that majority of the country is practically unsafe and downright dangerous to travel to (especially the southern region), it did mention that among all of Afghanistan, the best and most safest region is probably Badakhshan in the Northeast because militants and land mines are almost uncommon over there (or to say the least the region in the country with the lowest possible danger (I am aware of some incidents of kidnappings)). Should this be mentioned and should there be other places worthy of mention that are the least dangerous places?

changes to the warning[edit]

  • I removed the line in the warning box under stay safe that advised travelers to carry weapons. If you don't feel ok traveling unarmed then either hire an armed guard or stay out of Afghanistan. But advising travelers to arm themselves is totally unacceptable. Cacahuate 13 October 2006
  • I disagree fairly strongly. Methinks the text should be something like "Hire armed guards. Carry weapons yourself if you are competent with them." In terms of Afghan culture, there's nothing unacceptable about being armed. I was there in peacetime, before the Russian invasion. In the countryside, at least 70% of males over 10 carried rifles (then, mostly muzzle loaders; today, AK-47). In cities, perhaps one in five had a rifle. They more-or-less all had knives. I liked the place and people, but would not go back unless someone offered me an insane amount money. If I did go, I'd get some training and go armed. Pashley 11:51, 13 October 2006 (EDT)
  • You've only slightly disagreed with me... I'm not at all suggesting that it is safe to travel in Afghanistan... I'm simply saying that, as a tourist, arming yourself is silly and could only add to your problems. While the country IS heavily armed, it's a totally different story for a tourist. Carrying a weapon makes me assume that you would be willing to use it or at least threaten to, and that has serious implications. Can you imagine what would happen when it hits the news that an armed tourist shot someone? And simply showing it and threatening to use it would put you in far greater danger than smiling and trying to diffuse a situation. My point is, if you don't feel safe in Afghanistan either hire an armed guard or stay out. Violence only creates problems, it doesn't solve them. Cacahuate 14 October 2006
This is a travel guide, not just a tourism guide. This guide is expected to be useful to NGO and Aid workers. -- 68.126.206.91 05:22, 14 October 2006 (EDT)

I think we can agree that

  • Af is unsafe; only an Afghan or a lunatic could feel safe there
  • tourists should not go there
  • carrying a weapon you aren't trained and prepared to use is stupid
  • waving a gun around to intimidate people is really stupid
  • many dangerous situations are best dealt with without drawing a gun, even if you have one

That said, if you do have to go there, then I'd say carrying a gun is an option worth considering if you know how to handle one. If not, it is worth considering getting training. Pashley 06:36, 14 October 2006 (EDT)

The first thing that I would do if visiting the country is purchase a pistol, but only if a Kalashnikova was not easily available for purchase. I would never use the weapon or wave it around unless I was stopped at "road block" that was not an official road block. That said, I think we should make a point that even if you do not intend on getting to a sticky situation it may be wise to call the American Embassy in Kabul and ask for advice about hiring a respectable body guard. -- Sapphire 07:16, 14 October 2006 (EDT)
And what, pray tell, would you do with a Kalashnikov if you got your hands on one? Lugging one around is kinda inconvenient, and I speak from personal experience here.
At any rate, I think that instead of getting into the nitty-gritty, we should just state the obvious ("Afghanistan is not safe") and direct the reader to War zone safety for details. (Which, for reference, recommends keeping your hands where the roadblockers can see 'em, so they don't get jumpy and shoot you.) The local point worth noting, though, is the bit about how ubiquitous guns in civilian hands are. (In most war zones, it's just the government and the rebels who are armed.) Jpatokal 07:48, 14 October 2006 (EDT)
I'd fire randomly into the sky. A man from D.C. was talking to me about his experiences in Iraq helping the Iraqi government with Urban planning. They offered him a AK-47 or a pistol, however, since he had an Arab complexion and was a Sunni muslim he opted for the pistol since he figured he'd blend in well enough that he wasn't in as much danger as other American contractors. Other contractors that were guests of the Iraqi government and looked "western" we encouraged to carry the AK, even though it was annoying to carry it around. One, it is a little scarier than a pistol. Secondly, you could injure more attackers in a shorter period of time than with a pistol. -- Sapphire 07:57, 14 October 2006 (EDT)
  • This is indeed mostly a tourism guide. While some NGO workers may find it useful for restaurants, etc, I can promise you that NONE of them are consulting Wikitravel for advice on personal safety, or work related issues. Plus the original comment in the warning box that we're discussing WAS aimed at tourists. If someone wants to buy a gun and feels they need it, that's their choice, and I never said it wasn't... but encouraging tourists to arm themselves is dangerous and stupid, to use Pashley's words. Again, what would be the repercussions if a tourist DID use a gun? Sure most people imagine Afghanistan like the wild west and all, but you can't think for a moment that an event like that would go unnoticed and that things wouldn't get ugly. And Sapphire, if you were stopped at an unofficial roadblock, do you think that they wouldn't be heavily armed? Would you actually consider pulling out a weapon? I know maybe it sounds a grand idea in your head, but the reality would be much different, I can promise you. Cacahuate 14 October 2006
Of course they'd be heavily armed and I would only consider using the weapon if I knew that by not using the weapon I wouldn't have a chance to live. I'd rather take the chance of scaring attackers away than to know by not taking that risk that I would die in the streets. Anyhow, I think a body guard would do the same if he recognized that his client and himself were going to be murdered he'd implement evasive and "defensive" measures.
I think you were reading my comments wrong because I'm not advocating telling travellers purchasing a weapon is a resonable option, even though I would do it. I think the warning box should read something along these lines: "Afghanistan is a very dangerous country, especially in the western and southern regions. An increase in Taliban insurgence has led to some N.A.T.O. officals to believe the Taliban has regained control of roughly half the country. All travel to Afghanistan is strongly discourage since the only way to stay safe in Afghanistan is by not going. Should travel be a necessity hire a professional armed body guard." -- Sapphire 08:20, 14 October 2006 (EDT)
  • Agreed... I added a line about hiring an armed escort or going through a tour agency would decrease the risks... Cacahuate 15 October 2006
I really want to give everyone props for coming to a sensible consensus and not allowing this to get out of hand like some instances have in the past. -- Sapphire 03:38, 15 October 2006 (EDT)
Totally! I just slightly revised some more wording, not in the interest of nit-picking but in having the most up to date and least-broad description possible. While many people would argue that a simple sentence about afg being severely dangerous and 'do not go there' should suffice, I think it's much more practical to provide info for those who will not head those warnings on how to proceed safely (like myself, I'm currently here in Afghanistan despite many people trying to scare me out of coming). I've also had and witnessed extensive and heated discussions on LP's thorntree and elsewhere, so am trying to portray the most balanced viewpoint here from my own experience and that of others who have been here in the last couple of months. May this become the best source of info possible!  :) Cacahuate 15 October 2006
With Cacahuate's explanation of the current situation and safety advice plus the finer details accessible through the War zone safety link, I think the current information given in the 'Stay safe' section is more than adequate. WindHorse 04:24, 15 October 2006 (EDT)
I saw your (Cacahaute) edits and I think they're great. Can I ask what you're doing in Afghanistan (I don't want to know if you'll have to kill me :) ) -- Sapphire 04:29, 15 October 2006 (EDT)
Well, good question, I'm still trying to figure that out! I've been traveling for the last 1.5 years, and well... I was in Pakistan, it's so close, and I was curious. There aren't many people here traveling, but there are a small stream of them coming through from Iran to Pakistan or making sidetrips like myself, which is why I want to try to give info to those who will stubbornly come no matter what. I feel a lot safer here than I expected but am being extremely alert. That said, I heard a large explosion this morning here in Herat, followed by caravans of police and military speeding down the street... still haven't heard the details of that yet. Cacahuate 05:08, 15 October 2006 (EDT)
Sounds great, but be super careful. As you probably know, there was a Western reporter kidnapped in the country only yesterday - though it occured far from your area [1]. Anyway, take it easy. WindHorse 05:23, 15 October 2006 (EDT)

War zone safety[edit]

I just added sections to that article on weapons and bulletproof vests. Edits or comments there are solicited. Pashley

Herat hotel?[edit]

There's a 5-star hotel in Herat?? First I've heard of that, can you provide details in the sleep section... Cacahuate 05:06, 5 December 2006 (EST)

I don't know their exact address, phone number or email contacts, here is a picture of it [2]. There is also one called Diamond Hotel, which may be in the 4 star category.--Creative 20:07, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
Wow, that almost looks fake! The WP article says that a Serena Hotel is coming soon, but that doesn't look very Serena-ish. Anyway, if someone gets the details of that hotel, please add it to the article. Sounds like Herat's accommodation options are rapidly expanding – cacahuate talk 00:27, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
The Serena chain, owned by the Aga Khan, have a lot of hotels in Africa, six in Pakistan and one in Kabul, but according to their own web site [3], not yet one in Herat. It is possible their wen site is out of date, but I'd want strong evidence before believing that. Pashley 02:34, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
The only things I can find on a quick search are on Wikipedia... unsourced statements about plans for a Serena in Mazar and Herat at Serena Hotel, and a mention of the Diamond Hotel in their Herat article. But nothing on google. I'm still really curious about that picture above... that looks so out of place for Herat... it would be 10x nicer than the Marco Polo which when I was there last fall I think was about the best accommodation available in the city. That pic was also uploaded a year ago, I would think that we could find some info on it somewhere by now, I would imagine after spending all that money building it that they would want people to be able to find it! – cacahuate talk 02:46, 13 September 2007 (EDT)

Bundle up the provinces?[edit]

With 34 provinces, Afghanistan is a little too large to swallow at one gulp. Is it possible to group these provinces into 5-7 groups of 3-7 provinces apiece? That'd make a nice geographical hierarchy! --Evan 19:31, 6 December 2006 (EST)

Indeed... maybe since there are so few destinations that people are likely to frequent at the moment there isn't even a great need for provincial pages? I think most everything that's worth mentioning or remotely safe to travel to is already linked to from the main Afghanistan page. Maybe a Northern trekking (Afghanistan) or something like that would suffice for Pansjir Valley, Nuristan and the Wakhan Corridor, etc?
Oooor... just divide the country up into:
Afghanistan/West (Herat, and surrounds),
Afghanistan/East (Kabul, Jalalabad, Khyber Pass, Ghazni),
Afghanistan/Northwest (Mazar, Balkh and surrounds),
Afghanistan/Northeast (mountains, trekking, Kondoz, etc),
Afghanistan/South - the south doesn't need a page really since it's highly unlikely anyone will be traveling there soon and Kandahar will already be on the main page... (scratch that, will make a page on second thought) ...thoughts? Cacahuate 05:35, 7 December 2006 (EST)
OMG, I think I agree with my own second suggestion... i'm full of energy at the moment so i might plunge forward, if anyone objects speak quickly and loudly... Cacahuate 06:15, 7 December 2006 (EST)
It's great! The only thing is that we don't use sub-pages (Afghanistan/South) for anything but districts of cities. So it should probably be South Afghanistan, West Afghanistan, ... or something similar. --Evan 08:36, 7 December 2006 (EST)
Well isn't that sucky... I'll redo it tomorrow, heading out now! Cacahuate 08:52, 7 December 2006 (EST)
Ok, renamed the region articles, isIn's for all the destinations to be fixed later... Cacahuate 09:05, 7 December 2006 (EST)

So I've divided the provinces among the 5 region articles, and the relevant ones are listed on those pages - obviously it's not set in stone, if anyone thinks any particular province is better suited to another one of the region articles, by all means fix it... Cacahuate 08:17, 8 December 2006 (EST)

Useful links[edit]

Kabul travel article in NY Times - http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/01/21/travel/21kabul.html

http://www.mobycapital.com - a very useful tool if you're in Afg or heading there... they gather the day's relevant headlines and send out a daily newsletter, good for staying on top of current events - subscribe on their website - Cacahuate 13:45, 16 February 2007 (EST)

Tora Bora[edit]

Where in the hell is Tora Bora!? -- Sapphire(Talk) • 23:46, 22 February 2007 (EST)

Wikipedia to the rescue: WikiPedia:Tora Bora. -- Ryan 00:09, 23 February 2007 (EST)
I'm looking at that as Eastern Afghanistan. If our divisional system is different please move the images I'm about to add. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 00:19, 23 February 2007 (EST)
When I was a kid I lived in tornado country (Lubbock, Texas). Lubbock was hit by a big tornado in the 70s, and a lot of people still had t-shirts that said on the front, "Where the hell is Lubbock, TX?" and on the back "Everywhere!" The joke being that the tornado had strewn debris all over the place. Was the joke. On the T-shirt. That I saw. As a kid. Uh.
Anyways, I'm not sure how that'd apply to Tora Bora, where the armed forces of many nations have been "pounding sand" for more than 5 years, but I might be able to set up a t-shirt stand there and have a good business going. --Evan 07:33, 23 February 2007 (EST)
Now, that I've finally read this some comments Cacahaute made finally make sense. Any chance you know how to write the joke in Farsi? -- Sapphire(Talk) • 03:45, 12 March 2007 (EDT)
I don't, but I bet Jpatokal does... I would so buy that t-shirt - Cacahuate 03:59, 12 March 2007 (EDT)
Ya know, I bet Afghanistan is nicer than the kitchen I'm working in... got a salesman position for me? -- Sapphire(Talk) • 03:53, 12 March 2007 (EDT)

scary[edit]

Really, this is the most scariest review written on this site. I don't think about job as editors should be to scare people or say bad things about a country. I was just there and I can say 50% of it is untrue. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 75.24.182.185 (talkcontribs)

Such as what? Our job here is to write a travel guide, including warning about potential risks, as any other travel guide would. The fact that nothing happened to you while in Afghanistan doesn't make it a safe place. It just means that nothing happened to you. I don't think our travel warnings are over the top at all on this article, but if there are specific things you would like to address, feel free to propose some changes/updates, that's what this page is for :) – cacahuate talk 01:54, 3 August 2007 (EDT)
I agree with the IP number, Afghanistan is not as dangerous as you think, unless you are the enemy of Afghanistan (a spy or something). Afghans are known to protect and give asylum to visitors, regardless of their religion, race or nationality. For ages, when people were in need of asylum or protection, they all ran to the region of Afghanistan because here were people that gave shelter and protection to them. A normal person from Afghanistan will never harm a tourist, only criminals are the ones to becareful of, and we know criminals are in every country of the world. About the carrying gun stuff, that will get you locked up and sent to jail for several years. There are laws which prohibits anyone from carrying a weapon in Afghanistan, including a knife. anyone means anyone, including tourists, only the government officers may carry a weapon. The laws in Asia are usually mandatory prison sentence, not the same as western laws, where you get probation for first time offense so becareful of trying to break the laws, especially in any Islamic nation.--Creative 20:22, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
One person had said that all Afghans carried rifls in the 1970s, that is a ridiculous statement, in those days people in Afghanistan didn't even know how guns really look like. This person probably saw shepherds in the country side carrying the 1800s black poweder guns in case being attacked by wild animals, he or she assumes that most Afghans were carrying rifles. I can show you very convincing facts that America is about 100 times more dangerous than Afghanistan.--Creative 20:28, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
I did not say all, but in the countryside most and in town some. That's what I remember. Most then were indeed black powder weapons. High-end was a bolt action repeater such as WW II Lee Enfield .303; those were quite rare. Pashley 20:40, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
Whatever you saw were only few people carrying legal arms, nobody could carry arms illegally, not then and not now. If you want, I can show you the firearm law of Afghanistan from those days. It's legal to carry arms in certain parts of the country but not within the city limits or other populated areas. The firearm must be registered as well as permit issued.--Creative 11:53, 15 September 2007 (EDT)
The IP was commenting on the actual article though, not just people's view in general... do you think that the current warnings in the article are not accurate? I think they're pretty good, and not too over the top. I removed the advice to dress locally as this isn't always a better idea... I know people who were harassed in Kabul and accused of being spies and trying too hard to blend in. I also removed the titles altogether for the Koreans, we generally try to be neutral here on hot issues, and their purpose there is debatable... they deny being there on a mission (though I agree with you that they probably were). Anyhow, you've probably heard about the Taliban's new vow to abduct foreigners... they haven't just stipulated that it should be missionaries. I do agree with you that Afg can be safer than many people realize, but people should definitely understand the risks and what to look out for... especially westerners at this particular point in time... it certainly isn't Hawaii. – cacahuate talk 00:15, 13 September 2007 (EDT)
The IP was commenting on what he/she read in this discussion in regards to carrying guns while visiting Afghanistan, I was also commenting on the same. The warning on the front of the article is ok, but foreigners trying to carry arms in a foreign country is not ok. First, you will be suspected as a killer or assassin by the local government and it will be very difficult in trying to prove yourself innocent. Second, you are not allowed by law to carry any weapons so you will be jailed. About the 23 Koreans, I saw a special documentry on the NEWS confirming they were Christian missionaries. It's obvious that they will deny this, we didn't expect them to tell the truth. About the clothes, I was trying to explain to avoid wearing brand new clothes but instead take with you your used clothes that you have at home and wear that when you go outside, less people will stare or follow you that way.--Creative 11:53, 15 September 2007 (EDT)

Who invaded?[edit]

I just deleted Arabs and Turks from the list of invaders in the article. I don't think either group got that far East, not wit the Persians in between. Commenting here in case someone knows the history better. Pashley 09:10, 29 October 2007 (EDT)

Before you delete such kind of information, you should read general history on Afghanistan on Wikipedia or other places. Anyway, I'm expert on the history of Afghanistan, Arabs invaded this country in the 7th century but were defeated by the local Afghan tribes, although Islam was still spread throughout the entire country. Islam was accepted by the Afghan tribes on special conditions (through Loya Jirga) that their local language (Pashto) and culture (Pashtunwali) remain unchanged by the Arab language or Arab culture, in which both parties agreed. You talk about Persians as if they were capable of stopping Islam from spreading east towards India? It took less than 5 years before the entire Persian territories was surrendered to the Arabs. Turks invaded Afghanistan during the 11th century and ruled the area until Mongol invasion, in the 13th century.--Creative 18:10, 6 November 2007 (EST)

Stay safe rant[edit]

I have worked extensively on the road in Afghanistan over the last few years both for the military and for private contract companies... whichever idiot said to hire an armed guard has clearly either never been in afghanistan or spent his whole trip in a Kabul hotel... (unless you plan to hire guards from outside the country either from Europe, the US, or South Africa) guards from Afghanistan and neighboring countries are shady at best... I don't even trust the ANP let alone cheaper hires... one day south of Kabul I watched the "company" hired Afghan guards fire up some heroin at 1 in the afternoon!!! on the 5 occasions we came under fire during their care they ran every time... the contract I was under at the time was paid for by an organization that disallowed personal fire arms... I will never work under those stipulations again... the bottom line is either carry a weapon or be willing and at peace with your own death... I mean that with no hyperbole but out of simple pragmatism... so many locals carry guns that you can conduct your work or travel with no strange glances of any kind if you're armed... Ak's and a host of other weapons can be bought in Kabul for peanuts on the dollar... I suggest simply wearing a hand gun and if you don't act any different with it on no one else will... Meekness is "power under control..." you don't have to be aggressive... the gun you wear is in your control to use at your discretion... the gun you don't wear will never protect you... these people don't shoot westerners... they execute them... —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 125.213.207.20 (talkcontribs)

Please feel free to plunge forward and add your advice directly to the article. --Peter Talk 16:07, 8 August 2010 (EDT)

Travel agencies[edit]

I removed the "tour agencies" section per the Tour policy. While a strong argument could be made that Afghanistan is currently a country where a "tour" is important for safety reasons, the listings that were in the article included two agencies based in Pakistan that seem to simply offer bus tickets, which is clearly against the "no travel agencies" guidelines in the Tour policy, and my guess is that the presence of this section would merely encourage more travel agency listings. -- Ryan • (talk) • 16:08, 28 April 2011 (EDT)

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