Among the legacies of 9/11 is a more dangerous world for journalists and civilians working in conflict zones such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here are a few stories that tell of the growing risks.
Foreign correspondents catch flak for quoting taxi drivers in their stories, but the truth of the matter is that we grow rather fond of the people we work with over time. Rushing to make appointments in downtown traffic, or driving directly into a conflict zone when hundreds of much smarter local people are driving away from that conflict, these experiences tend to bond us to the people who are making it possible for us to do our jobs.
In this week’s Foreign Policy magazine, Anna Badkhen writes a touching piece about just such a friendship with a driver in Kabul whom she refers to as B. Recently, B. called her to say, “Anna jan, I will be killed soon.”
Like many of the Afghans who take jobs with foreigners, B. has been targeted for attack by local Taliban sympathizers in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The reason is simply because B. helped local police to arrest a man that B. believed may have been behind the Taliban attack on a UN compound in Mazar that killed more than a dozen people.
As with so many attacks on “the West,” or “the invaders,” it is Afghan nationals who end up being the victims. Now, it appears it could be B.’s turn. He gets threatening phone calls. The other day, men on a motorcycle threw acid on him in the street.
As a frequent correspondent in Afghanistan, I found Ms. Badkhen’s details of how her life had become intertwined with that of B.’s family to be most touching.
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