Guide Waiting for the Taliban: A Journey Through Northern Afghanistan

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Over the weekend, more than 3 million Afghans made their way to local polling stations to cast ballots in long-anticipated parliamentary elections. Just two days before, a beloved—and notorious—political leader, Abdul Raziq, the police chief of Kandahar province, had been assassinated while he was meeting with Gen. Austin Miller, the commander of U. Taken together, the two events say a great deal about the messy business of war-making and state building in Afghanistan since Meanwhile, Interior Minister Wais Barmak confirmed close to security incidents nationwide.

At least 17 civilians were killed in election-related violence. Yet reports from across the country revealed a citizenry steadfastly determined to make its voice heard. Afghans may be saddled with a weak government, but their collective commitment to rebuilding their nation remains strong. In that struggle, the citizens of Afghanistan had found an imperfectly heroic leader in Raziq, whose commitment to defending the state was matched by a staunch, persistent opposition to the Taliban.

Refugee drama in Kunduz

It also created a new political center of gravity for people across the country invested in ridding their homeland of violent extremism. In a country where citizens have lived in a state of anxiety and loss for decades, it is unusual for a single attack to stun the nation into a sustained moment of grief. But, on the eve of elections, the sense of mourning was unmistakable. Raziq, who was 39 years old, was born on the Afghan frontier in the Kandahar province border district of Spin Boldak.

The Taliban killed his father and uncle when he was a child; less than a decade later, he returned home to police his stretch of the border with Pakistan on behalf of the new Hamid Karzai government. Over the last several years, even as large swaths of southern Afghanistan were battered by Taliban assaults, Kandahar province receded from the headlines, becoming an increasingly secure and prosperous outpost.

Raziq is said to have established close relationships with fellow Achakzai tribesmen across the border as part of his effort to combat the insurgent threat.

Afghanistan to Europe: a journey of no hope?

He leveraged his massive earnings licit and otherwise into a patronage system, through which he expanded his base beyond immediate kinship networks. District-level government and police positions were engulfed in his growing sphere of influence, and he maintained good relationships with key powerbrokers, including the Karzai family. Raziq married friendly co-optation with a reputation for mercilessness toward those who crossed him.

Afghanistan’s Strongman Democracy – Foreign Policy

No one can give me those four years back. For those locally employed civilians still in danger in Afghanistan and those facing deportation from the UK because of rejected asylum claims, time is even more of essence. History shows us that changes in policy and formal apologies do not always come quickly. A Modern Engineer — Edinburgh, Midlothian. UEA Inaugural lecture: Alternative performance measures: do managers disclose them to inform us, or to mislead us? Screen music and the question of originality - Miguel Mera — London, Islington.

Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. It also called upon the government — not without a sense of irony — to: Abandon its policy of leaving former interpreters and other loyal personnel dangerously exposed in a country deemed too dangerous for those charged with assessing their claims to venture out from their bases in order to do so. Historical parallels In the past, other Western states have relied on local staff for auxiliary and military services, and faced embarrassment about their protection after withdrawal. Few options but to flee Some 1, locally engaged civilians and their dependants who qualified under the Redundancy Scheme were resettled in the UK.

He described the route as a three-month struggle with no food, no drink and no money: Listen, there were a lot of interpreters who worked there for longer, who stayed there for longer, who lost their legs, the British knew that. When I asked him if he regretted working for the British in Afghanistan, he told me: No, I have no regrets about that. Afghanistan British army Interpreter Afghanistan War. You might also like Afghan Northern Alliance fighters in Almost two decades later, the war continues.

The scene of the April 22 attack. September in Nangarhar. As I enter, I inadvertently step on a pair of Prada sunglasses — just as the Doctor walks into the room.

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A burly man with light skin and a dark brown beard, the Doctor picks up the bent glasses and examines them somberly. His hands are thick, enormous. He wears a white cap, with palm trees and suns embroidered in white thread. My heart sinks. Not the best beginning, perhaps. After everyone prays, the Doctor orders the others to leave the room, except for Yusuf. His voice is low and gruff. We sit on the floor. He accuses me of being a spy for the Afghan army. He asks how I got a visa to Afghanistan. I tell him I am here to write about the mujahedeen and tell their story.

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The Doctor asks about my contact. I say he fought with the mujahedeen from Jamiat-i Islami. The Doctor scoffs, saying the man never fought the Soviets. Then he gets to his feet and announces that he is going to make phone calls to Pakistan to investigate me. We will have to spend the night in the mosque, and he will come back for us in the morning. As I try to protest, he stalks out.

The Tunnel

I sit glumly on the floor in the guest room. The Talib fighters sitting with us insist that we drink the tea they have made. I hurriedly gulp it down and step out into the darkness, eager to get away from the mosque. But Shafiq has more bad news: We will have to return in the morning. My mind flashes to the videos I have seen on the Internet of victims being decapitated by jihadists in Iraq and Afghanistan. We get in the car and Shafiq drives slowly, winding through nearly invisible paths, the moonlight obscured by dust.

Reading the English titles on the program guide, he finds Al-Jazeera, the Arabic news channel. We watch coverage of the attacks we drove by the day before. Shafiq switches to an Afghan channel, and we watch an Indian soap opera dubbed in Dari. The women are dressed in revealing Western attire. I am amazed that Shafiq would watch something so anathema to the Taliban.

We watch as a portly singer with stubble and long hair imitates bad Eighties rock, but in Farsi. The next video features an Iranian pop singer dressed in leather fringe and a tank top, like a cross between Davy Crockett and Richard Simmons.

The Taliban commander watches, mesmerized. I n the morning, I awake to the drone of military planes overhead.

Stepping outside, I see a convoy of American armored vehicles a mile away. I fight the urge to walk to them and beg for rescue. I wait impatiently for the phone network to go back up. When it does, one of my contacts in Kabul tells me that he had spoken to senior Taliban officials who told the Doctor not to harm me, but the Doctor continued to insist that I am a spy.

He thinks the Doctor is just trying to assert his independence and exchange me for a ransom. He tells me that Mullah Nasir, a one-armed Kandahari who serves as Taliban governor for Ghazni, is also trying to secure my release. Khalil, the Doctor will arrest him. In the end, I am saved by the same official who authorized my trip. According to my contact, the Taliban minister of defense called Dr.

My contact tells me I will be let go this afternoon but that once we are on the road we should take the batteries out of our phones, to prevent anyone from tracking us. As we wait for the Doctor to arrive, Shafiq has other problems to deal with.