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“See ya soon, if we’re still alive”

October 19, 2009

a fascinating look inside life in the Pashtun heartland – as 2 Western journalists live in Kandahar and experience war, kidnapping and the surreal life of an average Pashtun.

from Foreign Policy magazine

Taliban fighter

Taliban fighter

In Kandahar, the Taliban are a fact of life — not necessarily liked, but present nonetheless. The traditional Pashtun recourse to healthy dollops of pragmatism means that a government official can enjoy live music with a Talib, even while each has full knowledge of who the other is. These lines are blurred and the tectonics shift constantly wherever you go in Kandahar. The government is apparently fighting “the Taliban,” this amorphous force that everybody has so much trouble defining, but with whom, at an individual level, there seems to be plenty of room to sit and do business. Indeed, previous governors of Kandahar regularly called and conferred with their ostensible enemy, the Taliban “shadow governor.” More than once, we have sat down to dinner with Afghans who had been fighting Canadians or Americans in neighboring districts earlier that afternoon.

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