Back in Kandahar

Amniat kharab day. Hokumat kharab day. Taliban kharab day. Security is messed up. The government’s messed up. The Taliban are messed up.
I was trying to have a conversation with old colleague of mine from Kabul on the plane down to Kandahar. He’s originally from there, of course, but now lived and worked in the capital. Usually I like to take a few days reacclimatizing myself to the country but this time I couldn’t be sure of a flight down south for a few days so took the first ticket available.

So what had changed in the two weeks I’d been gone? Well nothing, apparently, judging from my friend’s response. Malalai Kakar, Kandahar’s female police officer-cum-international star courtesy of an al-Jazeera Witness documentary on her life, had been gunned down near her house. Her son is lying in hospital in a coma.
Eid came and went, almost without my noticing it. People went home to family living in Quetta or Karachi. A friend of mine came back this morning from Quetta telling stories of gun battles between Baluch and Punjabis on the streets outside his house. “I wanted just to get away from the bloodshed of Kandahar for a few days, but it followed me back,” he said.
If there’s one thing two weeks abroad (California and London) does it gives a certain perspective on the things you quickly accept as ‘normal’ when living in Kandahar.

If someone would unholster his pistol and place it on the table at Café Nero in London I think they’d have a problem or two, but in Kandahar I don’t blink twice when interviewees or friends come in off the street and lay their AK-47 or even once an RPG next to the wall.
Otherwise the city’s pretty quiet. It’s a good seven or eight degrees hotter than it was before I left, which is a little strange, but it makes a change from Kabul where it gets a little nippy in the evenings.
Having a little more exposure to English-language media over the past week I’m a little concerned how ‘Awakening Councils’ or ‘Sons of Afghanistan’ are on everyone’s lips, from Governor Palin in the VP debate a few days ago, to all colours of columnists. Will try to write something on that in the next few days.