FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Birds of Kandahar

by Alexander Cockburn

Further evidence of the bright era now dawning in Afghanistan: life is returning to normalcy in Kandahar after the grim supervision of the Taleban clerics. On accounts by Tim Reed in the London Times and more recently John Lee Anderson in the New Yorker, joyful sons of sodom are to be seen driving along the boulevards of the ancient city, their catamites demurely installed in the passenger seat. Reid knowledgeably discloses that Kandahar has long been fabled as the San Francisco of South Asia. So delirious are the peculiar enthusiasms of the Pashtun that local wisdom has it that birds fly over the city using only one wing, the other covering their posterior.

It seems that the rape of young boys by warlords was one of the key factors in Mullah Omar mobilising the Taleban, in yet another manifestation of that intolerance that has so aroused the indignation of many liberals, prompting them to cheer on the B-52s. There was a famous fracas in 1994 when two warlords faced off in a dispute over which of them would have the right to rape an attractive young fellow who had fallen into their clutches. There was gunplay in which civilians were killed. Eventually the lad was freed by Mullah Omar’s group and the one-eyed zealot was promptly inundated with requests to help in other such disputes.

The inhabitants of Kabul, who had seen their city devastated and thousands killed in the war between muj warlords similarly yearned for the security, albeit puritanical, offered by the Taleban. Farmers and poor city dwellers who had seen mass rapes of their daughters by the warlords’ armed rabble, strongly supported the Taleban, reckoning that the compulsory burkas were no bad thing if it betokened the safety of women going out in public.

One of Omar’s first decrees when the Taleban took power in 1994 was the suppression of homosexuality. Accused sodomites endured Trial by Wall Push. Reid offers the example of one such trial in February of 1998 when “three men sentenced to death for sodomy in Kandahar were taken to the base of a huge mud and brick wall, which was pushed over by tank.” Two of them died, but in an instructive example of how the Taleban tempered its stern ways with a acknowledgement of the captious workings of Allah, one crawled away to live and love another day.

But now pre-Taleban normalcy is now returning to Kandahar, just as it is to the rest of Afghanistan, where tens of thousands are fleeing to Pakistan to escape banditry and starvation. “One can see the pairs returning”, Reid reports. “Usually a heavily bearded man, seated next to, or walking with, a clean-shaven, fresh faced youth.” He adds that “it is usually a terrible fate for the boys concerned” but that they accede out of poverty. “Once the boy falls into the man’s clutches – nearly always men with a wife and family – he is marked for life, although the Kandaharis accept these relationships as part of their culture.”

“They say birds flew with both wings with the Taleban,” Muhammad tells Reid. “But not any more.” Is it not stirring to learn of such fruits of Pax Americana!

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 27, 2017
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail