Sunday, March 13, 2011

Afghan Diary: The Bashi-bazouks of Afghanistan

The Bashi-bazouks were soldiers of the Ottoman Empire who terrorized civilians, received no standard pay, and lived primarily off looting and pillaging.  The Taliban are the Bashi-bazouks of Afghanistan.  Most Taliban do not recieve any salary, instead they are paid for missions or activites they partake in.  This payment, however, is not enough to survive on.  So many Taliban survive by going house to house demanding "donations" and/or a meal to eat.  Below are some stories I have been told by villagers of what the Taliban have done (warning: the second story gets violent).

"The Wife is Not Home"

A Taliban commander was hungry so he went to a house and pounded on the door demanding food.  The man of the house did not open the door.  Instead he said that his wife was gone to the market to buy supplies so there was no food and no one to cook any food.  The commander yelled that he was going to break down the door and that if he found the wife inside he would kill everyone in the house.  The man of the house meekly opened the door and his wife, who was hiding, was forced to cook the last of the family's food for the commander.

"The Husband is Not Home"

Several Taliban were passing through a village around noon.  They walked up to a door and announced their intent to eat lunch with the family who owned the qalat.  A female voice answered them through the closed door.  The woman of the house said her husband was at the mosque praying so she could not allow them in (in Pashtun culture guests cannot be in a house with women if the man of the house is away).  The Taliban replied "Whore, we are the men of this house, this village, this district, and this province!  We will beat you like a dog to show you we are the men of this place!"  The Taliban forced themselves in, beat the woman, and forced her to make lunch for them.  The husband did not return from the mosque until after the Taliban had left.

"Night Surprise"

A man was reading by candle light late at night when a teenager walked up to his window.  The teenager said "I'm hungry."  The man looked up and thinking the boy some beggar told the teenager to go away.  The man looked back down to continue reading.  The boy again said "I'm hungry."  As the man was looking up, preparing to yell at the teenager, he noticed the teenager had an RPG pointed straight at the him.  The teenager said for a third time, "I'm hungry."  The man ordered his son to give several loaves of naan to the teenager.  The teenager put away the RPG, took the naan, and walked off into the darkness.

No comments: