Cables From Kabul - Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid
The title of this article's not strictly true – we've actually left Kabul, and are currently making the long journey back home. But now that we've cleared Afghan airspace and travelled beyond the grasp of the Afghan secret police, there are a few things we'd like to get off our chests.
It's all lies.
All kinds of things that happen in Afghanistan don't get reported. The police block bomb scenes, leak bogus statistics and threaten to arrest journalists who snoop. On the 30th of June, a bomb was dropped off in a picnic basket at the Ministry for Transport. It killed about 12 policemen. We know because we drove past, jumped out to take a picture and were threatened with arrest. We were forced back inside our cab, but thankfully the taxi drivers filled us in on the rest of the details over the course of the day.
Deaths of internationals get reported, but if it's just another local policeman, they try to sweep it under the old Afghan rug. The NDS (National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's aforementioned secret police) intimidate journalists into false reporting and if you were a journalist living and working here you would be intimidated. Everyone's afraid of the NDS.
The Taliban aren't so mean.
The world would be a better place without them, but the Taliban have taken the rap for a lot of things they haven't done in Afghanistan. On the 27th of June, they got the blame for car-bombing a hospital in the Logar Province that killed 38 people. And maybe they did, but the argument in Kabul is that it doesn't make sense for the Taliban to bomb a hospital that they use themselves.
As for the death of Karzai's brother, a lot of people think it was the Mujahideen rather than the Taliban who got him. But the powers that be don't want you to believe that Afghanistan is completely splintered into opposing militia, tribes and armies. It's convenient for the government and the US to blame the Taliban for anything that goes pop in Afghanistan. There are an awful lot of hearts and minds at stake.
The Taliban at least could keep a handle on the traffic here. Today's traffic police are about as good at marshalling traffic as the street dogs.
Karzai gets high.
Yeah, even the goats on the street know this one. The president of Afghanistan is a pothead. It might just be an after dinner toke once in a while, but nevertheless, everyone in Kabul says that Karzai smokes hash.
Dear hippies who claim that it would be amazing if the world's leaders all got stoned together: this man is a perfect example of how bad it would be if they really did.
Thanks for reading.
WORDS: CONOR CREIGHTON
PHOTOS: HENRY LANGSTON
The time Conor and Henry spent in Kabul this summer will be documented fully on VBS and in VICE Magazine soon.
Previously in CABLES FROM KABUL:
KNIFE TO MEET YOU
THE PRESIDENT'S BROTHER'S DEAD
...AND ALL THEY BROUGHT ME BACK WAS THIS LOUSY SHOTGUN
RECUERDOS DE KABUL
MINESWEEPING IS MORE THAN JUST A BAR GAME
THE FUN WE JIHAD
BIG TROUBLE, LITTLE CHINA
MANGLED JIHAD NECK FLESH