Goat Game: Thirteen Tales from the Afghan Frontier

Afghanistan
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Afghanistan

Books 7, Nonfiction 2, Magazines So this is the help we humbly request from our American friends: This is the way we can become part of the new Afghanistan, and the modern world. Or the cleanest, for that matter. Or, we do have contingency funds. So Hindquarters is right, for once…no money programmed for this purpose, no supplies in the pipeline.

And no time for us to wait around for a change from on high, even if the Old Man wants to support us. Hang out too long in one place in this country and trouble will always show up. Of course, we have to mean it. Seven months later the river roared bank-full with milky glacier melt beneath the wooden cantilever bridge, and a heavy scent of pine seemed to flow down from the forested hillsides above the town. Higher yet, snowfields gleamed in the June sunlight. Yesterday, the day the team had arrived, most of the patients had been from the town, but today many were from villages as far away as a twelve-hour walk up the valley.

Abdullah brought the attention of the two officers back to the rectangle of roughly leveled rocky ground, outlined by a low stone wall less than a meter high, immediately in front of them. One soot-blackened corner, with several half-burned logs and a pile of rusty cans, gave the place an air of neglect and desertion even in the crystal sunshine.

This was, Abdullah explained, the site chosen by the shura council for the first-ever school for girls in the valley.

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Daily Finance. Under Afghan Sunni rule these ceremonies were often [ 59 ] interdicted, or at least restricted; but now they are able to carry them on unhindered, and pray for the continuance of British rule in consequence. Information was brought that Rangin, knowing of this, intended one day to kidnap me, and hold me to a high ransom. The snow-clad peaks of Sika Ram, which rise to a height of fifteen thousand feet, tipped by fleecy white clouds, were just behind me, while in front was the green valley of the Kurram River, spread out like a panorama before me, widening out into a large plain in its upper part, where numerous villages, partly hidden in groves of mulberry and walnuts, nestled among the lower spurs of the mountains, while farther down the hills on either side of it closed in and became more rugged and bare, and the river wound its circuitous path through defile and gorge, till it debouched on the plains of India. Let us wish you a happy birthday! The population of Afghanistan was estimated at Finally, having made their position secure, and realizing [ 56 ] the charms of the valley, the Turis ceased to return to the plain, and remained in the valley all the year round.

Immediately after the winter snows melted and the road down the valley opened in the Spring, a man had arrived from Chitral. He was from a charity and development organization, he said, an NGO, and he would help them build their school.

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The village elders told Abdullah they were astonished that the message to the powers in far-off Kabul actually had borne fruit. Local craftsmen and merchants eagerly agreed to contracts for materials and labor, and work commenced as the Chitrali NGO representative snapped pictures on a small digital camera. After three days, he drove off down the valley, bound for Kabul to pick up the money to pay off the contracts and buy additional supplies.

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He never returned, and now the half-finished foundation stood, a monument to betrayed faith and idealism, to workers unpaid and merchants without materials or means to purchase more. Bailey had never before seen the old man so angry.

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But miscreants like this one come, make promises, go to Kabul with the contracts and photos of make-believe projects, sometimes letters and petitions from the local shura. They receive money from government agencies and non-governmental organizations, put it in their pockets, and disappear. True Muslims do not steal from the poor like this. These are dacoits , common criminals. In village after village after village, Afghans learn to doubt the government and the NGOs and the promises from the West. The wahabbis, the Arabs, the Taliban are out here; people see their faces; and when they say they will build a school, or burn one down, they do it.

Even if the news about their school is bad, they respect the promise you have fulfilled.

1 • INTRODUCTION

No one knows both sides of the Pak-Afghan Frontier as [Wick] does. He has climbed the mountains, run the rivers, and sipped tea in countless tribal councils. Goat Game: Thirteen Tales from the Afghan Frontier, stands apart from the volumes of material now being published about the conflicts in Afghanistan and.

Abdullah ceased speaking, flushed with emotion and perhaps embarrassment about lecturing the two officers. His audience exchanged glances. In the far corner of a dim, cavernous room, a five-man band beat out a raucous tune on drums and oddly shaped stringed instruments. Urged on by laughing comrades, men in turn strutted to the center of the dance floor and performed whirling, lunging solos to the insistent tempo. Crowding all four walls were what seemed to be all the males of the town save perhaps the mullah from the madrassa , blowing smoke toward the ceiling, cheering the dancers, throwing rupee notes onto the floor to reward particularly flamboyant performances.

The small red and green notes flew like confetti as Staff Sergeant Rabin claimed the floor and threw himself into a stomping, spinning break dance.