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:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail