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  Field Notes From
A New Day in Kabul



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From Author

Edward Girardet



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From Photographer

Steve McCurry


In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Brian Strauss (top) and Steve McCurry
 

On Assignment On Assignment On Assignment
A New Day in Kabul

Field Notes From Author
Edward Girardet
Best Worst Quirkiest

I've known Kabul for quite a while. It was interesting to do an article on something other than fighting. It was oddly gratifying to see traffic jams in the city. The bazaars and tearooms are full, and people are walking around without too much fear. A lot of progress is being made.



Panshiris, ethnic Tajiks from the northern Panshir valley, are making the same mistakes as before. They're basically in control and using that to assert themselves. They walk around with a sort of swagger. So what you see now is something like a Panshiri Mafia. It gets very nasty at times. People get beaten up. The Mafia types feel very strong, particularly because they're backed by Americans and other internationals. I tried to explain to some of them that to build a nation, they have to bring in all of the people. Some of the Panshiris are aware of that and are trying to change things, but the strong-arm approach happens a great deal, particularly vis-à-vis the Pashtuns. It's not so unusual to see nepotism and corruption. But it's very discouraging to realize that, with all of the money going to train a new police force, the only ones being paid are the senior officers. That will ultimately lead to policemen looting, becoming corrupt, and doing precisely what they're supposed to protect people against. And that's just one of the problems that lies ahead.



Until recently, cricket never existed in Afghanistan. But refugees who picked it up in Pakistan are introducing it, and a lot of the kids have become mad cricketeers. Even though people have very little to eat, they manage to pool their resources to set up a tearoom with a generator, a TV set, and a satellite dish to watch two things they never saw before: MTV Asia and cricket matches. I had excited nine- and ten-year-olds telling me about the cricket match between the Windies from the West Indies and some other favorite team.





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