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

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail