In a couple of weeks I’ll be returning to Afghanistan. This was not a trip I thought I’d be able to swing so soon after the initial visit, but when your heart and wandering feet put in their demands there is little one can do to deny them!
Just a couple days ago, Obama discussed his plan for the ever widening conflict in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Acknowledging that the true are intrinsically tied and that both countries are in desperate spirals of violence, a cautious Obama discussed strategy and possible troop deployment. Only time will tell what the US strategy becomes and how that plays out overseas.
A few days later Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai signed into law a bill that effectively legalizes rape within a marriage. In a massive blow for women’s rights, the new Shia Family Law negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman’s right to leave the home, according to UN papers seen by The Independent. The move has prompted international outrage. The election is scheduled for August and that can only mean more power grabs, corruption, and general unrest.
Today, a major attack was launched by the Taliban in Kandahar at a provincial council building, killing 10 and wounding others. A reminder, as if we needed one, that the Taliban are alive and kicking and have a stranglehold over large parts of the country.
Needless to say, all things to keep one alert.
This visit, Najibullah will again aid as my fixer extraordinaire, arranging everything from interviews and school tours, to securing a safe driver for the time I’m there, translating, and acting as Dari teacher during the down time. Last visit found us working on my pigeon Dari over lunch while our driver Shah Mohammed smiled and interjected occasionally to keep me on my toes. Two of his sons joined us periodically for our excursions and it my hope that this trip may allow for a visit with his family. He walks a fine line of keeping me safe and alert, yet acknowledging that I have little desire for remaining cloistered behind locked doors. My favorite times are when we are walking between appointments, enjoying lamb and rice in a crowded cafe, with the smells, dust, and noises creating a connection for me with the country.
While the purpose of the trip is work with Mountain to Mountain, I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces again, adventures on the back of a motorbike, more high speed buzkashi, and delivering some much needed supplies at Kabul’s deaf school.
photo by Di Zinno