80s War Left Afghan Lives in Tatters

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Jamshed fiddled with a black plastic bag
that held his most treasured possession – a prosthetic eyeball.

“I had this artificial eye once, but now it does not work,”
he said.

Six years ago, half of Jamshed’s life, he saw something
sticking up alongside a dusty road in central Afghanistan.

“I thought it was a pen,” he recalled. “I pulled it out.”

It was a land mine. The explosion ripped off his right hand
and wrist. Shards shot into his forehead and left eye.

Now, Jamshed wanders with other Afghan invalids – all missing
limbs – scuffing through the orange dust in an adobe Afghan

As the United States continues to bomb Afghanistan, with
prospects of a ground war ahead, the issue of civilian casualties
has become one of the most volatile in the debate over President
Bush’s war on terrorism. “Collateral damage” in the language of
the military means, in Afghanistan, lost lives and limbs to people
too poor to get adequate care.

In Afghanistan, civilians continue to be maimed by the legacy
of fighting long ended.

Afghans for a decade battled troops of the Soviet Union,
which invaded their country in 1979. The Soviets and their
supporters scattered between 5 million and 10 million land mines
throughout the country, few of which have been cleared out.

Areas bordering Pakistan, and the Kabul region where Jamshed
was injured, are among the most heavily mined, according to the
group Physicians Against Land Mines.

When the Soviets left, internal factions battled. The Taliban
took power in 1996 and still is fighting the Northern Alliance,
which the U.S. supports.

In 1998, Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar
supported a world ban on land mines, condemning them as
“un-Islamic and anti-human.” Recently, however, organizations
working to get rid of mines criticized Omar’s ruling Taliban for
obstructing their work.

Internationally funded efforts cleared 2,791 anti-person and
anti-tank land mines from Afghanistan last year and, according to
several anti-land-mine groups, casualties dropped by about half
since 1999 to fewer than three a day earlier this year.

But Physicians Against Land Mines notes, “Recent unconfirmed
reports indicate that the flow of refugees through mine-affected
areas has substantially increased this number.”

Another result of the U.S. bombing campaign is that efforts
to remove mines are on hold. On Oct. 9, the second night of U.S.
bombing, four Afghan mine clearance workers were killed when a
bomb hit the building they were in east of Kabul.

Learning to improvise

All of which brings customers to Shamsul Haq, a leading
Afghan prosthetics dealer with clinics in the Afghan cities of
Kabul and Jalalabad, and in Peshawar. He said many can’t afford to
replace lost limbs with artificial ones.

“For one arm, the price is 15,000 rupees,” or about $250,
said Haq, 48. “This is too difficult for Afghan people. Most have
been living with no home or land for 23 years.”

Throughout the Soviet occupation and the civil war, he
supplied hundreds of people with arms, legs, hands, feet, hips,
corsets that support broken backs – “87 different devices for the
human body,” he says.

International Red Cross workers helped train Haq, whose
customers have ranged from a 1-year-old boy whose leg was blown
off by a Russian bomb to a man from Kandahar, Afghanistan, who
lost both legs and an arm last year.

The man’s brother wheeled him in, Haq said, and presented a
note from Taliban leader Omar: “Please make him feet and a hand.”

“If American ground troops come, American people will need
amputations, and more Afghan people will need amputations,” Haq
figured. “They will lose their feet and hands.”

With so many impoverished people in need of his services, Haq
sometimes supplies arms and legs at reduced rates. Instead of
offering only imported products from Germany and Britain that cost
up to $1,000, he designed a hinged lower leg using cheap steel
piping that costs only $83.

Bombing sand, not people

Haq’s cousin Abdul Ghafoor, 36, a factory owner in Kabul who
had just entered Pakistan over a mountain pass last week with his
5-year-old son, Taher, said the U.S. bombing is not inflicting
widespread casualties. Many bombs dropped by Americans appear to
be hitting hilltops and deserts, he said, not people.

Ghafoor added that Taliban forces set lanterns and campfires
on some out-of-the-way ridges as decoys. U.S. warplanes “bomb and
bomb and bomb,” Ghafoor said, “but they only get one or two

If the war moves to the ground, many civilian casualties
likely would have to be treated within Afghanistan. Pakistan
continues to block official border crossings. The only way out is
over mountain passes that require climbing or riding on donkeys.

Haq plans to be ready for any influx. When a customer comes
in, first his men measure their limbs, then show various materials
and models. Then they go to work with saws, drills, files. Dust
and fiberglass shavings soften the shop’s cement floor. Boys hang
about and fetch drinks for people waiting.

Beyond limbs, Haq said, he tries to help heal souls. He
offers words from the Koran justifying struggles against those who
would hurt Muslim people.

“When we are victimized by aggression, then we are supposed
to fight,” he says. “You may have lost something. On your death,
God will make you a whole human being.”

That sort of consolation seldom reaches the Shamshatu
settlement southeast of Peshawar, where a dozen Afghan amputees
recently gathered outside a makeshift mosque that serves as a
refugee town center.

All lost at least one limb in the war with the Soviets. Most
had crutches. Few had functioning artificial limbs. One man’s leg
healed bent in half – never treated.

“I’d climbed up in the top of a tree,” said Mohammad Kasim, a
former commander who lost his right leg fighting Soviet forces on
a road between Kabul and Jalalabad. A helicopter approached. “I
was trying to shoot down the helicopter. Then it shot me.”

In this group, the 12-year-old Jamshed is the youngest victim.

“I need money,” he said.

Not so much for an arm or a leg, he said, but for medical
attention to stop a near-constant stinging in his empty eye

“I’m in pain,” Jamshed said, voice rising faintly in the
wind. “I just want my pain to end.”

For more information

In Afghanistan, where people have coped with warfare for two
decades prior to the U.S. bombing campaign, land mines are an
enormous threat. UNICEF estimates that Afghanistan ranks sixth in
the world for land mines per square mile. Here are some websites
where you can learn more.

Two UNICEF sites have statistics and overview information:



The International Campaign to Ban Landmines has information at

Physicians Against Land Mines is at www.banmines.org/ and has
a fact page on Afghanistan: www.cirnetwork.org/news/lmfacts.htm

The Landmine Survivors Network, whose work in Bosnia was
publicized in August 1997 by Diana, princess of Wales:

Pakistanis Stand Ready to Battle for Taliban

Thousands near border await call from Afghans

MATTA, Pakistan – Seated around an earthen-floor living room
in this mountain village on Tuesday, a group of armed men awaited
word from Afghanistan to start fighting for the ruling Taliban.

“Our blood is the same. Whenever the Taliban needs us, we are
here,” said Qari Abdullah, a teacher who is among thousands
gathering on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to help fight
Americans and defend Islam.

But Abdullah and his cohorts, who represent a challenge to
United States policy and, potentially, military efforts in the
region, haven’t crossed into Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials say they can’t.

And Taliban officials don’t want them – yet – saying the
battle only involves air assaults that would endanger the men.

Late Tuesday night, movement leader Mulana Soofi Mohamad
traveled to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to talk with Taliban officials
about a strategy for the volunteers, said Abdullah, spokesman for
the forces, which he said numbered 35,000. Pakistani officials
have put the number at 8,000.

Armed supporters around Abdullah in the room included a
nephew wielding an M-16 assault rifle that he said Americans
supplied to mujahadeen forces enlisted in the 1980s to fight the
Soviet Union.

“America’s President Bush said in one of his speeches that
this is the beginning of a crusade. He uttered that word,”
Abdullah said. “He challenged the faith of Muslims.

“Now we here are poor people. We work for our food, and
because of our work we survive. We don’t have time to leave our
beautiful children, our innocent children, and go away from our

“We had two options’

“But we had two options. Stay home. That would hurt our
faith. Or the other way, sacrifice our blood, head, body, heart.
This was the only gift we had to give the Afghan people. If they
don’t want this gift, we will still be ready all the time.”

This sort of resistance isn’t what U.S. officials had in mind
when they launched a military campaign in Afghanistan after the
Taliban refused to give up suspected terrorist leader Osama bin

This week’s amassing of Pro-Taliban forces along the border,
south of Dir in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, is one of
several challenges facing the United States and Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf, who supports efforts to hunt down bin

North of Islamabad, another group blocked the Karakoram
highway this week in the latest of many protests against
cooperation with the United States. They agreed Tuesday to reopen
that key route.

Bin Laden remains alive and uncaptured. The Taliban remains
in power. Rebels fighting Taliban troops say they want more help
and appear to have made little progress.

“Very few Taliban are dying,” said Abdul Ghafoor, 36, a
businessman who crossed from the Afghan capital Kabul five days
ago with his 5-year-old son.

“The Taliban were bad. I wanted to change the government. But
now my whole life has gone bad because of the Americans. Now
everyone is siding with the Taliban.”

Pakistan Frontier Police Sgt. Yousaf Khan said people are
suspicious of the United States because of past policies.

“They feel that Osama is not responsible for the Sept. 11
attacks as accused. They say: “First Americans used the Afghans to
fight the Soviets. Now the Americans want to fight the Afghans.'”

A network of recruiters organized the volunteer forces
drawing from valleys including this one, ringed by mountain peaks
with farms down below between busy little towns where strict
Islamic codes prevail and uncovered women are seldom seen.

It’s easy to enlist volunteers, with thousands of men
entering recruiting offices to join the jihad, or holy war, said
Tariq Mehmood, 28, a bearded teacher from Khawazkhela in the upper
Swat Valley.

For seven years, he said, he’s been recruiting in Mingora and
towns to the north. First he interviews candidates to test their
faith, he said. “We ask the question: “For what do you fight?'”

Before the air assault on Afghanistan, “we have to arrange
only one vehicle for taking them to training. Now, we have to
arrange seven or eight vehicles for training.”

The training camps, he said, are those that U.S. agents once
helped establish across this region when the Soviet Union was the
enemy. Training consists of 40-day to six-month sessions heavy on
physical drills and demonstrations of how to carry and load

If Taliban leaders call for the forces along the border to
enter, and Pakistani guards still block them, Mehmood said, “then
we will make a plan what to do.”

  “We are all Afghans’

Though they come from Pakistan, the men at the border speak
the same language, Pushtu, as a majority of Afghan people. Many
have relatives in Afghanistan.

“By culture, we are all Afghans,” said journalist Hameed
Ullah Kahn, 24, of Mingora, down the Swat valley from Matta.

“If Osama bin Laden is the bad guy, why are Americans
victimizing the Afghan people?” he said. “Think about those people
you are bombing. What might you see in their faces? If I bring a
Kalashnikov, put it on your head, that is the effect you have on
the Afghan people.”

Afghan Student Loyal to Islamist Cause

Days filled with prayer, preparation to leave Pakistan

AKORA KHATTAK, Pakistan – Afghan student Abdul Sammad sat
down on a rocky berm by the road, ready to explain his willingness
to fight for Islam.

He had just finished morning studies inside a walled,
multi-tower mosque compound here, one of Pakistan’s proliferating
“madrassa” fundamentalist schools.

“You should not attack us,” Sammad said, his sequin-studded
white skullcap sparkling as fellow students crowded around.
“Otherwise, we will sacrifice ourselves. All Afghans will
sacrifice themselves. Whatever America intends to do is bad and

Some Muslims across the Middle East and Asia share Sammad’s
determination to struggle against, not cooperate with, a
superpower they see as an enemy. At the same time, many countries
that are heavily Muslim are cooperating at one level or another
with President Bush’s campaign against terrorism.

Sammad, 25, studies the Koran and prepares to return home in
case his country is attacked for harboring Osama bin Laden,
accused by Bush of fomenting the terrorist attacks on New York and

“We will go to Afghanistan for the jihad,” he said.

On Sunday, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam
Zaeef, said Taliban officials know where bin Laden is but won’t

“For his safety, his place remains unknown to others,” Zaeef
said in an interview at his residence in Islamabad.

The Taliban’s continued protection of bin Laden led
Pakistan’s president to say Monday that the U.S. military is
likely to strike against Afghanistan, which could end Taliban rule.

Back by the side of the road, Sammad told how he grew up as
the son of a farmer in northern Afghanistan. He was 3 when Soviet
forces invaded in 1979 to prop up a communist regime. The battle
to oust those troops, he said, caused destruction that still mires
Afghanistan in poverty.

“I love Afghanistan, not the destroyed Afghanistan.”

When Sammad was 15, his family moved to Pakistan, where he
enrolled at the Akora Khattak madrassa, where Taliban leader
Mullah Omar studied.

Back home, Taliban fundamentalist fighters gained ground in
factional battles for control. They marched on Kabul in 1996,
dragged the former president to death, imposed sharia rules and
restrictions on what women can do.

They have burned books and generally challenged global
norms with actions such as blowing up ancient Buddha statues they
rejected as idols of foreign gods.

Sammad shares the Taliban rejection of modernity.

“We don’t need anything from outside,” he said, days after
Taliban forces seized emergency food supplies provided in part by
U.S. contributors. “We don’t want America to come here. We don’t
need the help of America.”

But problems with America aren’t what he studies these
days, he said. Students focus on the Koran. “We talk the opposite
of terrorism. Peace. Islam calls for peace. We like peace.”

When he prays in the blue-and-white-tiled mosque, he said,
“the feeling is of peace, tranquillity and mercy.”

Class begins for 3,000 or so madrassa students at 7,
breaking at noon, resuming from 2 until 7. There’s no tuition.
Food, too, is free.

On weekends, most, including Sammad, return to their families
in settlements nearby on the arid plains below the Khyber Pass.

In a perfect world, Sammad said, he’d be a teacher in

Things being what they are, he went to Afghanistan a few
months ago and joined the fight against the Northern Alliance, a
confederation seeking to oust the Taliban, now with U.S. backing.
His role was “in the back lines” of fighting.

He and fellow Taliban supporters in Pakistan are wary of even
talking with Americans.

Yet, despite their outrage at the possibility of U.S.-backed
retribution against their homeland, they conveyed sympathy and
dismay regarding the Sept. 11 attacks. Sammad watched images of
explosions and suffering on television at a hostel where he drinks

“It was very heinous to see this happen,” he said. “It was
very cruel. I felt bad as well. Islam doesn’t allow this.”

Life at the Border

Escaping war, facing despair

Thousands of refugees flood Pakistan to find only hunger, desperation

SHAMSHATU, Pakistan – Montana mountaineer Greg Mortenson
winced at the sight: Refugee boys as young as 4, whose families
just fled Afghanistan, labor here in an open-air brick factory to

“Sometimes no food,” 9-year-old Arnan Gul said, his bare feet
swollen and caked with clay.

The struggle between terrorists and the United States is
claiming victims here, and the situation is worsening by the day.

Fearing a U.S. assault on Afghanistan, men, women and
children crossed the border into Pakistan this week – illegally,
through mountains, because officially the border is closed.

Here, southeast of the city of Peshawar, they grip hoes and
hack out clay to earn enough money to eat.

“This world is just not fair,” said Mortenson, who has been
setting up schools around northern Pakistan in an effort funded
largely by Colorado members of the Golden-based American Alpine
Club. “These aren’t the terrorists. These aren’t bad people.”

The potential for a huge refugee crisis is growing as tens of
thousands of Afghans ignore their own leaders’ reassurances and
try to escape into Pakistan.

Some are stopped. Some make it through.

Bearded men wearing turbans and brown shalwar kameez lead the
way, followed by women in burka gowns that cover their faces, the
custom here.

Some support Afghanistan’s Taliban government, which rejects
the U.S. demand to give up Osama bin Laden, blamed by President
Bush for the suicide terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Some don’t.

Mostly they’re just poor, suffering already from a drought,
clinging to their Muslim faith.

Sajjad Ali Shah, a Peshawar arms importer, said Afghan
friends told him some refugees who had brought their families to
Pakistan now were returning to Afghanistan with a desperate
money-making plan.

They will wait for U.S. aircraft to attack and then sell
metal from the bombs as scrap.

The situation, already brutal for many, could worsen. U.N.
officials say 1 million refugees could seek shelter in Pakistan if
the United States attacks.

The Taliban’s supreme ruler, Mullah Mohammed Omar, on
Wednesday tried to calm his country, where aid agencies say at
least half of the population of Kabul, the capital, has left.

“America has no reason, justification or evidence for
attacking,” his statement said, as reported by Cox News Service.
“Therefore, all those (Afghans) who have been displaced internally
or externally are instructed to return to their original place of

But refugees keep coming by the thousands.

That adds to tension in border lands where almost everybody
carries weapons and many resent the Pakistan government’s support
of a U.S.-led campaign against terrorism.

Pakistan’s border is closed partly because of security
concerns raised by U.S. officials after the attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Pakistani officials on Wednesday refused to open up, saying
the country can’t handle more Afghan refugees than the 2 million
already here. But refugees who slip through anyway, such as those
who trekked over mountains south of the Khyber Pass, can stay.

Some, such as the Ullaha family, end up at this roadside
brick factory on a parched plain.

The Ullahas left their barren farm near Jalalabad because
of the “war situation,” said Shooker Ullaha, 40, the father. He
had heard radio reports about attacks on America, he said, and
then about the U.S. threat of military action against Afghanistan.

He hadn’t heard recent assurances from U.S. officials that
“there won’t be any kind of D-Day” and innocents won’t be hurt.
His voice rose in the heat.

“Afghanistan and America friends after Russia war,” he said.
“Please. I appeal to America: no attack.”

For 24 hours he led 10 family members through the mountains,
he said.

And Wednesday, their second day in Pakistan, he and his four
sons already were working – 4-year-old Uzammat pushed a scraper to
clear mud from the work area. Naqeeb, Nusherat and Amdad – all
under 8 – helped hack out clay from a berm. Men molding bricks set
them in rows on the ground to dry before hauling the bricks to a
kiln at the base of a smokestack.

They say the Pakistani owner pays them the equivalent of
$1.50 per 1,000 bricks – a day’s work for an adult.

“If the situation clears, I go back,” he said. “I can’t go
back to Afghanistan now because the situation is not clear.”

Mortenson listened silently.

He was thinking of his own two children back in Montana, he
said later, imagining them molding bricks to survive. Nearby in
the sprawling, mud-brick Shamshatu refugee camp, he has set up a
school for children – an open-air classroom with 12 teachers and
space for 420 students.

But nobody studied there Wednesday.

Pakistani police told Mortenson the Shamshatu camp was unsafe.

Traveling back and forth to northern Pakistan over the past
five years, Mortenson, 43, has set up 22 schools for children in
communities that supply porters for U.S. climbers in the Karakoram

“The need is everywhere,” he said. “The only way we can defeat
terrorism is if people in this country where terrorists exist
learn to respect and love Americans, and if we can respect and
love these people here.”

The border is jittery.

There are conflicts between those supporting Pakistan’s
government, which backs Bush’s demand for bin Laden, and Muslims
appalled at potential military action against other Muslims.

“Maybe civil war,” factory owner and trader Mohammad Arif said.

A towering painted portrait of bin Laden clutching machine
guns decorated the back of one truck. Some Pakistanis point out
bin Laden built roads and clinics in Afghanistan.

Tuesday in the Khyber Tribal Area, five men were pulled from
a car and shot in a feud.

Inside a mud-brick compound after the killings, 16 men sat
drinking tea and smoking cigarettes. They joked that they all are
cousins of Osama bin Laden.

Five more shots from a machine gun reverberated just over
the wall. In one way, people on the border, accustomed to
conflict, are not jittery: Nobody flinched.

Black-clad Pakistani police and soldiers patrol along roads
and at edges of Afghan neighborhoods in Peshawar.

Inside a fortified United Nations compound, bureaucrats
coordinate construction of new tent cities and water supplies for
up to 1 million refugees.

“Afghanistan is a human-rights and humanitarian catastrophe.
These are probably the hungriest and poorest people of the world,”
said Yusuf Hassan, spokesman for the U.N. high commissioner for
refugees. “They are trapped.”

U.N. officials want the border opened. U.S. officials say
they haven’t taken a position.

“We’re concerned about the humanitarian crisis,” spokesman
Mark Wentworth said from the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan’s capital,
Islamabad. “We continue to provide assistance to refugees in
Pakistan. We continue to try to provide assistance to vulnerable
Afghans across the border.”

Out on the hot plain, Mortenson watched boys molding bricks
and wondered whether America’s campaign will succeed. Leaving
Afghanistan under threat of military attack for weeks “is causing
innocent people to panic,” he said.

Children languishing in refugee camps could become prey for
terrorist recruiters in the future, he said. “What’s the
difference between them becoming a productive local citizen or a
terrorist? I think the key is an education.”

A Window of Opportunity

Pakistanis ready to walk fine line for U.S. effort

Chance for economic growth a strong draw for many

KHYBER TRIBAL AREA, Pakistan – Mohammad Arif can operate.

As his friend Ali Shah Kazmi guides a car among armed Afghan
smugglers openly selling hashish and heroin, carpet factory owner
Arif heads for a towering adobe warehouse crammed with Chinese
televisions trucked in through Afghanistan.

“No tax here,” Arif says with a smile as one of his
Kalashnikov-toting warehouse guards approaches. The laws of
Pakistan don’t reach into this tribal land near the border.

Arif figures he’ll operate even better under the emerging
alliance between his country and the United States. Now, says
Kazmi, a gem dealer who recently displayed emeralds at a Denver
exhibition, America “will give us more importance.”

It’s hard to envision a partnership that holds more promise
or peril than the one with Pakistan, a country filled with
economic ache and open drug markets guarded by machine guns.

The iffy alliance has advanced in recent days.

On Monday, U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin announced in
Islamabad, the capital, that terms would be eased for $379 million
of the $3 billion Pakistan owes the U.S. government. This followed
President Bush’s weekend lifting of sanctions imposed following
Pakistan’s test detonation of a nuclear bomb in 1998.

More inducements may be coming.

“At this critical time, we expect our already strong trade
relations to prosper,” Chamberlin said.

For a country of 141 million with a literacy rate of not
quite 38 percent, that’s tempting.

“Our ultimate objective is to get economic growth and reduce
poverty,” Pakistan government economist Nawid Ahsan said. Pakistan
“wants to be considered a reliable supplier of goods and services
to the U.S. market.”

Under the Bush administration’s push for international
support in its war on terrorism, Pakistan – until recently a
backer of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban – has joined in demanding
that the fundamentalist Muslim leaders give up Osama bin Laden,
the man the U.S. holds responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The quest for support is taking U.S. emissaries to places
such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgystan, which many Americans
know only as splotches on a map or as fabled lands of
saber-wielding khans.

Central to the U.S. strategy is Pakistan, which shares a
1,400-mile border with Afghanistan, where bin Laden is believed to
be hiding.

Pakistan offers airfields, roads and other facilities more
modern than in most countries in the region. A U.S. negotiating
team, described by Pakistani officials as a trio of military
officers, arrived Monday. U.S. officials simply said the group was

Pakistan also beckons symbolically as a Muslim country that
in the past has helped – and received help from – the Taliban. The
country, like the United States, assisted the victory of bin Laden
and Afghan tribesmen against Soviet occupation in the 1970s and

Today, not everyone here is as interested as Arif and Kazmi,
and the officials in Islamabad, in working with the United States.

On Monday in the Dhoke Najoo mud-brick shanty community near
Rawalpindi, computer science graduate Khurram Shazad, 21, warned
that America’s well-intentioned war on terrorism could degenerate
into “a nightmare for humanity” unless military efforts are precise.

And Americans shouldn’t worry whether they can trust
Pakistan, Shazad said. “Better to ask: How reliable is America as
a partner? Because America abandoned us after the Cold War.”

A teacher in the nearby Dhoke Najoo mosque, who identified
himself only as Gulistan, emphasized that “Islam doesn’t allow

But he added with greater emphasis: “A Muslim government is
not allowed to stand with non-Muslims against Muslims.”

In his Islamabad ice cream parlor, Yummy’s, Malik Sohail
Hussain said that economic and religious issues are prompting
Pakistan to side with the United States.

“The Afghans are eating us up – all our energies are fixed on
them,” Hussain, an official of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce,
told the Associated Press. Just as in the Persian Gulf War, he
said, nations must now take sides and fight because of extremists
who twist Islam to their own purposes.

“We want to live peacefully like America, like Europe, to be
a loving place,” Hussain said.

On the streets of America’s newfound ally, towering trucks
and buses teeter while traveling at breakneck speed down roadways
clogged with horse-drawn carts and wandering cows. Open-faced
shops blare drumbeats and songs in Urdu, the national language.

All is punctated by round discs of nan bread, tea and Muslim
prayers five times a day.

Giant rocks partially melted in Pakistan’s 1998 underground
nuclear test blast are displayed as monuments in cities.

The clan-driven political system regularly produces bloodshed.

Set up by former colonial power Great Britain as a home
for Muslims in 1947, Pakistan has gained and lost prime ministers
rapidly, with frequent military takeovers – including the one that
installed ruling Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

Opposition to the U.S.-Pakistan partnership has ignited
street protests, prompting a police crackdown.

Riding through an Afghan neighborhood in Peshawar recently
with his partner Kazmi at the wheel, Arif saw a rock ping off the
windshield. Then another. Something thudded against the rear
fender. A crowd of boys was swarming.

Kazmi stopped. Arif got out and faced down the barefoot boys.

“Are you crazy?” he yelled as some ran away.

They are angry, Arif said, “because of the war with Osama and

U.S. officials insist they aren’t pressuring Pakistan to do
anything it doesn’t want to do. “We do not make demands of our
friends,” Ambassador Chamberlin said at a news conference.

But three hours’ drive away, near Peshawar, Arif and Ali
Kazmi had heard otherwise.

They recently took a drive – clicking in a Ricky Martin
cassette – north through Pushtun country to Charsadda, where they
met with Sangeen Wali Khan. He’s president of the district
People’s National Party and son of the ruling family of the
Pushtun people who live on both sides of the border.

On a veranda looking out at his garden while servants brought
food, Sangeen gave an account of how Pakistan came on board for
the U.S. effort. He said he heard it from his brother, a national
party chief, from whom Musharraf had sought advice on the matter.

Pakistan agreed to help the United States, he said, after
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned Musharraf and told
him to choose quickly between Pakistan moving into the 21st
century or returning to the Stone Age.

“We have no choice,” Sangeen said. “This country can’t afford
any more conflicts. … If we don’t have too many innocent people
dying, then I don’t think we’re going to have too much trouble.”

Sangeen retired to the shade of wild roses and bougainvillea,
lit a cigarette and blew smoke.

Arif and Kazmi, with Ricky Martin singing again, headed back
down the road to Peshawar – through sugar cane fields, past
barefoot peasants selling stones, across the muddy Kabul River –
to marble-floored mansions.

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