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 01, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Hillary: Ordinarily Awful or Uncommonly Awful?
Rob Urie
Liberal Pragmatism and the End of Political Possibility
Pam Martens
Clinton Says Wall Street Banks Aren’t the Threat, But Her Platform Writers Think They are
Michael Hudson
The Silence of the Left: Brexit, Euro-Austerity and the T-TIP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Marx on Financial Bubbles: Much Keener Insights Than Contemporary Economists
Evan Jones
Ancillary Lessons from Brexit
Jason Hirthler
Washington’s Not-So-Invisible Hand: It’s Not Economics, It’s Empire
Mike Whitney
Another Fed Fiasco: U.S. Bond Yields Fall to Record Lows
Aidan O'Brien
Brexit: the English and Welsh Enlightenment
Jeremy R. Hammond
How Turkey’s Reconciliation Deal with Israel Harms the Palestinians
Margaret Kimberley
Beneficial Chaos: the Good News About Brexit
Phyllis Bennis
From Paris to Istanbul, More ‘War on Terror’ Means More Terrorist Attacks
Dan Bacher
Ventura Oil Spill Highlights Big Oil Regulatory Capture
Ishmael Reed
OJ and Jeffrey Toobin: Black Bogeyman Auctioneer
Ron Jacobs
Let There Be Rock
Ajamu Baraka
Paris, Orlando and Turkey: Displacing the Narrative of Western Innocence
Pete Dolack
Brexit Will Only Count If Everybody Leaves the EU
Robert Fantina
The First Amendment, BDS and Third-Party Candidates
Julian Vigo
Xenophobia in the UK
David Rosen
Whatever Happened to Utopia?
Andre Vltchek
Brexit – Let the UK Screw Itself!
Jonathan Latham
107 Nobel Laureate Attack on Greenpeace Traced Back to Biotech PR Operators
Steve Horn
Fracked Gas LNG Exports Were Centerpiece In Promotion of Panama Canal Expansion, Documents Reveal
Robert Koehler
The Right to Bear Courage
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Spin Masquerading as Science Courtesy of “Shameful White Men of Privilege”
Eoin Higgins
Running on Empty: Sanders’s Influence on the Democratic Party Platform
Binoy Kampmark
Who is Special Now? The Mythology Behind the US-British Relationship
Mark B. Baldwin
Russia to the Grexit?
Andrew Wimmer
Killer Grief
Manuel E. Yepe
Sanders, Socialism and the New Times
Franklin Lamb
ISIS is Gone, But Its Barbarity Still Haunts Palmyra
Mark Weisbrot
A Policy of Non-Intervention in Venezuela Would be a Welcome Change
Matthew Stevenson
Larry Cameron Explains Brexit
Cesar Chelala
How Tobacco Became the Opium War of the 21st Century
Joseph Natoli
How We Reached the Point Where We Can’t Hear Each Other
Andrew Stewart
Skip “Hamilton” and Read Gore Vidal’s “Burr”
George Wuerthner
Ranching and the Future of the Sage Grouse
Thomas Knapp
Yes, a GOP Delegate Revolt is Possible
Gilbert Mercier
Democracy Is Dead
Missy Comley Beattie
A Big F#*K You to Voters
Charles R. Larson
Mychal Denzel Smith’s “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: a Young Black Man’s Education”
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Four Morning Ducks
David Yearsley
Where the Sidewalk Ends: Walking the Bad Streets of Houston’s Super-Elites
Christopher Brauchli
Educating Kansas
Andy Piascik
The Hills of Connecticut: Where Theatre and Life Became One
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail