Friday, November 11, 2011

The property Market will plummet once the new of international community departure sink in, how bad is it going to be?

It is going to be very bad. House prices were driven up by the rent prices the international organisations were prepared to pay. A regular house in downtown Kabul would return around US$ 25000 per year for the owner. This encouraged many to invest in property and the price of a flat in Kabul residential areas climbed to a range of 700000 to 1 million dollars. Even the suburbs such as charai Qambar saw a huge rise, a house would be around half million dollar at the very least in this part of town. Another reason for the increase is cultural, I went to see a family friend some time ago and he advised that I should be buying a house. Many people who made good bucks in the gold rush of foreign assistance have invested the money in a house. It is seen as an investment but also an icon of status.

Now we are facing a scenario where house prices in the suburb of Kabul cost as much as to buy a similar one outside London in the UK and higher than most European countries.

The international money has also funded the extravagant mansions in Kabul's most expensive neighbourhood of Shirpur, Wazir Akbar Khan and Shari Naw. Ornately gilded pillars hold up pastel-hued balconies; brightly coloured domes crown mosaic walls made of mirrored tiles. In this part of town most homes were built by Afghanistan's corrupt political elite on land stolen from the poor and the state since 2003. A good majority of these houses are rented by mercenaries, embassies, the UN, warlords, MPs, ministers, high ranking government officials and television journalists, scrambled to pay tens of thousands of dollars in rent, and moved in. these houses are known as "poppy palaces" because of the suspicion that they were built with the proceeds of opium smuggling. These are the luxury houses and the first thing which will happen as the tide of Western money starts to recede is a drop in the prices of these houses. This has already started to happen. The prices of these houses are crashing as we talk. The prices had plunged by half and plummeting at a faster rate. The rent for one 14-bedroom house had dropped from dollars $18,000 a month to $9000. Properties are empty for the last six months since Obama announced the withdrawal of troops.

Once the foreign money starts to recede considerably in the next couple of years the time of bust will set in. not only the prices of houses come to the real world level but there will be a serious panic, initiated and stimulated by panic selling. 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Why Liberal Muslims don’t matter?

It was a few weeks ago that I went to a talk in southbank centre on the summer “uprisings” that swept across the Middle East. Among others a Muslim academic from Egypt talked about the “revolution”.  She talked of falling in love with revolution. That she is a proud Muslim but not an Islamist. She also emphasized on the need for freedom for all human beings and how western politics deptrived them by supporting autocratic regimes across the region; here she unleashed on the west for double standards and moral corruption.
Once you summarise the speech and look at her line of thinking you will realize that it is one of those common thread of thinking that is prominent among “moderate Muslims” and the one that western liberals could easily associate themselves with, because of its universality such as all people are rational including Muslims and a believe in things are going to eventually take a turn for the better.  

This theme of thinking has been incurring around me for the last few days and it was the other day that I come across Marwan Muasher article that was published in New York Times; the response is not for Mawan Muasher but to all Muslim Liberals that argue along the same train of thought. To summarise Marwan is saying:

Islamists are unlikely to take over new governments in the Arab world for reasons:
first, Islamists are not stupid. Arab countries face daunting challenges and whoever governs them will need to tackle tremendous political and economic problems. 
Second, Islamists are not as popular as Western pundits and policy makers think. Political Islam benefited from closed authoritarian systems.

You've heard this "thought" expressed in one way or another, the message of the Islamists resonates with the Islamic believes and common thinking, the common man is not politically active but will listen to the words of Islam in whatever format and shape delivered. The second point Marwan is making is exactly why we should worry. The Taliban were not that popular, they started with a group of 800, the Ayatollahs of Iran were a minority but took over the revolution. The popularity of Islamists has never been the problem but the question has been whether it could be contained by the government or not and that is exactly the worry about brining Taliban to the government.
Now to clear the first point raised, (1) If Marwan knows what is in the minds of Islamists, it is his solemn responsibility to inform us of the source of his information, and also to share it with the authorities. (2) If he does not know what is in Islamists minds--as seems enormously more probable--then why does he rush to appoint himself the ventriloquist's dummy for such a faction? Who volunteers for such a task at such a time?
Not only is it indecent to act as self-appointed interpreter for the killers, but it is rash in the highest degree. The fanatic Islamists have not favoured us with a posthumous manifesto of their grievances, or a statement of claim about Palestine, Iraq or Afghanistan, but we are nonetheless able to surmise or deduce or induct a fair amount about the ideological or theological "root" of their act and if we are correct in this, then we have considerable knowledge of two things: their ideas and their actions.

I don’t think there is the need to talk about the killings that happen by the Islamists on daily basis or the several thousand Hazara that were massacred in Bamyan by the Taliban or the fact that women can’t vote in Kuwait or drive in Saudi Arabia. I think the action of the Islamists speak for itself but lets contemplate about their thinking, to the Wahhabi-indoctrinated sectarians of Islamists (that are not only driving the politics of Islam in the Arab world but also in Afghanistan) only the purest and most fanatical are worthy of consideration. The teachings and published proclamations of this cult have initiated us to the idea that the tolerant, the open-minded, the apostate or the followers of different branches of Islam are fit only for slaughter and contempt. And that's before Christians and Jews, let alone atheists and secularists, have even been factored in. As before, the deed announces and exposes its "root cause." The grievance and animosity predate even the Balfour Declaration, let alone the occupation of the West Bank. They predate the creation of Iraq as a state. The gates of Vienna would have had to fall to the Ottoman jihad before any balm could begin to be applied to these psychic wounds. And this is precisely, now, our problem. The Taliban and its surrogates are not content to immiserate their own societies in beggary and serfdom. They are condemned, and they deludedly believe that they are commanded, to spread the contagion and to visit hell upon the unrighteous. The very first step that we must take, therefore, is the acquisition of enough self-respect and self-confidence to say that we have met an enemy and that he is not us, but someone else. Someone with whom coexistence is, fortunately I think, not possible.  

Now to the question I raised at the beginning of why Islamic Liberals are irrelevant to the political discourse of the region. The Liberals have no real ties with their own societies, they are merely the face of Islam to the rest of the world and that is precisely what is bothering me. The group claim for universality of rights while advocating the Barbaric Islamic Fascists, further the liberals would take any opportunity to unload the blame on the west.  The secularists would only be successfully once the Islamic countries address the issue of injustice and corruption that has riddled these countries therefore removing the common cause for public disillusionment. In such an environment the determined minority of secularists and modernist could be able to seize the opportunity, as was the case in Turkey by the elite officers of the army, and pull the country out of the polluted water of Islamic Fascism that they all seem to drown currently.