“4-nil and it’s started to rain”
Not much has happened in Kandahar since I last wrote – not on a grand scale, anyway. It seems the dead need to line up in the dozens for international media to take note. Today an attack on a USPI convoy killed several, but it will undoubtedly not be deemed newsworthy enough for anything more than a sentence or two, if that.
I remember a few months ago 30 USPI guards died in a massive Taliban ambush on the Helmand/Kandahar border, but that story was never covered.
Another attack further up the road in Sanzari blocked the main highway for hours this afternoon, and friends of mine saw a car still on fire, with leaking petrol leaving a trail behind it, being taken back to the airport where international forces are based.
Yesterday, the head of the ministry of disabled and martyrs was gunned down in the morning as he went to work. His bodyguard was also killed and his driver injured in the attack.
I have been meaning to write about Mullah Naqib and the anniversary of his death a few days ago. The government put on a big ceremony – several, in fact, all over town – which I went to with friends.
Lots of people showed up, a sort of who’s who of the 1980s jihad in Kandahar, along with the governors of Helmand, Kandahar, and even Asadullah Khaled, the former governor of Kandahar. It was a bit of an endurancy ceremony, though, as 21 people took turns to make speeches. It went on for 4 hours. Here’s a video with some snippets as well as a short shot taken at the lunch following the speeches:
Mullah Naqib was an important figure for Kandahar in many ways, important as a person in his own right, important for security, and important for Arghandab district. So he died a year ago, then Abdul Hakim Jan was killed this February in Afghanistan’s largest ever suicide bomb (largest in terms of casualties). After Abdul Hakim Jan – a character if ever there was one – it was more or less over for Arghandab. He was the last strongman there. But still the Taliban continued, and a couple of months ago they started a campaign of executions and kidnappings in the district. That’s still going on.
Now there’s really nobody left.
Which is why – nice as it was – the ceremony was a bit of a damp squib. Yes, Mullah Naqib is gone. But that’s old news. Nobody was stirred to action with all the countless tales of Mullah Naqib’s bravery. Yes, one speaker said that he was a hero. “In times of insecurity, we need heroes,” he said. Not so many in town, I’m afraid.
Kandahar is ruled by the dregs of society now, the people who are here just to make money, to rip off NATO in half-finished construction projects, and those who are too far invested in illegal corruption scams to leave now.
But let me explain the title of this post. I was talking about negotiations with a friend of mine from down here:
Southern Afghanistan is like a football match. The Taliban are 4 goals up, and NATO is clearly being dominated on the field. Thunder clouds appear on the horizon and it starts to rain. So the NATO players run over to the Taliban and ask, “let’s call it a draw, ok? It’s started to rain.” But the Taliban don’t care. They’re ahead and they don’t mind a bit of rain. This is what the negotiations are like.
And in case all of this is too serious for you, here’s a video of me getting my hair cut in town the other day: