t r u t h o u t | 11.22
Once More Fear Stalks the Streets of
Thursday 20 November 2008
by: Robert Fisk, The Independent
Five years after his last visit, our correspondent finds the Taliban back in charge of their spiritual home - and girls attacked with acid simply for attending school.
There is a little girl in the Meir Wais hospital with livid scars and dead skin across her face, an obscene map of brown and pink tissue. Then there is another girl, a beautiful child, Khorea Horay, grimacing in pain, her leg amputated, her life destroyed after her foot was torn to pieces. In another ward, two girls lie on their backs, a tent above their limbs. One has lost an arm, another - a 16-year-old - a leg.
Then there is the grim young man with the beard, also in the darkest pain, who looks at me with suspicion and puzzlement. He has a bullet wound in the abdomen, a great incision sutured up after the doctors found it infected. Two other young men, also bearded, cowled in brown "patu" shawls, sit beside this suffering warrior. They, too, stare at me as if I am a visitor from Mars. Perhaps that's what I am in
The black turbans are everywhere. So are the blue burkhas which we Westerners confidently - stupidly - believed would vanish from Afghan society. But the Taliban insist they were not responsible for throwing acid in the face of the little girl in the second-floor ward at Meir Wais hospital. You know what she is thinking. You know what her parents are thinking. Who will marry this girl now, with her patchwork face of pain? Four men on a motorcycle threw acid at her and 13 of her friends on their way to school. Four were brought here, two dispatched immediately to the eye department. The Taliban deny any involvement. But they would, wouldn't they?
Khorea Horay is a victim of that other tormentor of southern Afghanistan, the forces of Western "civilisation" who dispense "collateral damage" to the poor and the illiterate of
The two girls with amputations are very definitely victims of the Taliban. They were walking in the very centre of
The doctors lost only one of their patients, a senior police officer, while two bodies were brought to the hospital morgue, one of them a woman. The Taliban happily claimed responsibility for the bomb which tore their own people apart - and which allowed the Nato commander,
But who is "fighting for the people" of
A little girl is brought into the hospital in a green dress. "Isn't she beautiful?" Nola Henrya nurse from
And it is all too clear what is wrong with many of these children. They are dying of hunger. There is a mini-famine in the desolation of the deserts of
Beside the vast American airbase 20 miles away, a Nato metropolis adjacent to the most Islamist city in Afghanistan, the "international" airport sits in a slough of despond, its chain-smoking Afghan soldiers scarcely bothering to carry out security procedures on passengers, its echoing, empty departure lounges adorned with crude advertisements for tourist agencies that no longer exist and for an Afghan army which disappears from the roads after 4pm every day. I stood beside the runway yesterday, watching the armada of
Another took off. Two minutes later - I could still just see it - at 1,500 feet, US personnel at
Barack Obama wants to send 7,000 more American troops to this disaster zone. Does he have the slightest idea what is going on in
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