The Hat of Abdul Haq

Encounters With the Mujahideen

Still from Afghan Warrior: the Life and Death of Abdul Haq.

Forty years ago this month in Peshawar in North-West Pakistan, my taxi pulled up outside the gates of the headquarters of exiled Afghan mujahideen leaders Younis Khallis and Abdul Haq. I didn’t know either men but what I did know was that they both belonged to Hizb-i-Islami, one of seven Afghan resistance groups based in Pakistan, and I wanted to film and write inside Afghanistan. A small hatch-door presently opened and poking out was the shiny barrel of an AK-47 assault rifle. I mentioned to the guard the names of Younis Khallis and Abdul Haq, as recommended by an Australian I had met at Deans Hotel, and it seemed immediately the case that Younis Khallis was away. It looked as though I was destined to meet Abdul Haq, who had made over fifty trips back to his homeland since the Soviet occupation. The gates swung open. My letter of introduction from the Australian was snatched from my hand and read upside down. Another Afghan appeared. Soon there were three Afghans by my note. I didn’t have Pushtu. They didn’t have English. I was gestured towards a room where on the wall was a map with fresh, possibly Soviet troop, markings. Just then, a sturdy-looking man with a thick dark beard entered.

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Peter Bach lives in London.

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