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On the ground with one of the warlords 15/10/01
This is Commander Qazi Kabeer. This
is his school, these are his prisoners.
This is the capital of his dusty
kingdom. Three district along
Afghanistan's northern border. From
here, Qazi Kabeer rules over 300,000
people, half of them refugees.
Unannounced guests don't get this
far, but today I have been granted
an audience. This is Nomaz,
Kabeer's personal secretary.
He is ushering me into the presence
of the warlord himself.
Kabeer goes nowhere without his
well-armed posse. Years of fighting
the Russians taught him to move
nimbly and without warning. Even
today he won't show us the itinerary.
The aim is to show he is not just a
fighter, but a builder. This new
mosque is the first stop on a
whirlwind tour of photographic
opportunities. The commander has
sound bites to match.
COMMANDER QAZI KABEER (TRANSLATION):
The prophet said that the best people
are those who can give most help to
others. It's my islamic duty to
help the people.
With that, it's back into the Toyota pick-up,
the same vehicle the Taliban used to sweep
to victory across much of Afghanistan. We
are heading again for a building
site. Architecture is not fancy.
Bricks and mortar are both made of
different kinds of mud but the pace
of building is impressive.
The commander is not elected. His
authority comes originally from the
gun, but now he believes his public
works have legitimised his rule as
a civil governor.
Until nine years ago, there was
nothing here, just open land. The
people of this area, if they wanted
to buy necessities, they had to
travel 25 or 40 kilometres. We
decided to solve the problem and
build this town.
Next stop - the town's newest institution,
a hospital that is only a month old.
It's not built by the commander but
by the government of Iran.
Sadly the pick-up has not lived up
to its promise either. The hospital
was finished just in time to cope
with the human fallout from the
DR ASHRAF AINI:
When the Taliban came they wanted
to push back Taliban and during the
fighting he got this injury.
Now with the Northern Alliance expected
to advance, doctors here will get
Any time during the attacks for the
fortification of the Taliban, we have a
lot of cases of minor explosions and
Tyre changed and machine gun at the
ready, we are coming to another
hospital which the commander has
financed through his rudimentary tax
system. Inside, this four-year-old
boy is being treated for malaria,
doctors say he will survive. Next
door, they have not managed to save
the leg of an old man who road his
donkey over a mine. But Kabeer has a
wad of consolation to whip from his
pockets. The patients are silenced either
from gratitude or sheer bemusement. Our
commander has an eccentric passion for
antiquities. This is the beginning of
his museum. While the Taliban are
destroying Afghanistan's heritage,
Kabeer has salvaged fragments of past
glory from a city founded by Alexander
These objects show the Afghan
people have a history. We preserve
that history by saving these things.
Education is a passion of Kabeer.
70% of boys are in schools here,
twice the proportion in Taliban
areas. The American food drop has
now provided with them with book
bags and the commander's raising
standards with his own interpretation
of performance related pay.
Unlike the Taliban, the commander
is even prepared to allow women's
education. But girls don't get the
same priority as boys. They are
schooled for a very limited range
We hope our women will do what they
can to help other women within our rules.
We don't want to give them hard or
difficult work that they won't be
able to manage.
In practice, girls
here will consider themselves lucky
to get any job outside the home.
Many will be married by the time
they are 14. There are some older
girls here, this is the door to
their classroom, but we are not
allowed in. What the commander is
happy to show us at the end of this
bewildering tour, is the inside of
his jail. The prisoners are
captured Taliban soldiers. Mostly
Afghan but some Arabs, Chechens and
Pakistanis. They are packed 20 to a
cell and justice depends on the
commander himself. These two Iraqi
Kurds are pleading that they never
fought for the enemy. After a
heavy day's governing, the
commander likes to escape across
the river to his home village, swapping
the pick-up for a locally made contraption.
His family were prosperous land owners
here. Kabeer only became a fighter
after the Communists imprisoned his
father at the bottom of a well.
Today he has replanted the orchard
that the Russians destroyed.
Beyond his personal bodyguard,
Kabeer commands 1500 men, a vital
contingent in the Northern
Alliance. But the Alliance now says
it has no immediate plans to
advance on Kabul. Pakistan says it
won't accept a Northern Alliance
government but Alliance leaders
themselves insist they are happy to
wait for the former king to convoke
a national gathering of chiefs to
choose a new government. Kabeer
expects to be invited.
Right now, everyone America, the
western world and our neighbours
are all talking about the former king,
all except for Pakistan, are interested
in him. During his reign he had good
relations with our neighbours,
superpowers and kept a balance
Do you think the Taliban can play
any role in a new Afghanistan?
All members of the
Taliban are not the same. Many of
them are moderate and would like to
form a highly principled
government. At the close of the
day the commander likes to be alone
with his guards and his God.
Whether men like him really have a
grand vision for their country's
future is impossible to fathom, for
now, they are still fighting their
own struggles and they are not
laying down their arms yet.