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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
Loya jirga diary: Day three

I hope the air-conditioning was working in the loya jirga tent on Wednesday, because the rhetoric was red-hot.

It was the first day of real debate, and the delegates were determined to take advantage of it.

Delegates meet in the loya jirga tent
There was anger in the tent on the first day of real debate
Given that we're not allowed anywhere near the tent itself, I watched it all on TV, and at times I thought the screen was in danger of melting.

There is real anger in that tent - anger at what some delegates say is behind-the-scenes manipulation by the Americans.

Souvenirs

There is also anger among the Pashtuns who think the Tajiks who control the current administration are still trying to keep them out.

So they spent all day arguing over how to elect a chairman for the loya jirga itself - something that should have been relatively straightforward, but which still hadn't been resolved by night-fall.

Carpet vendor in Kabul
The carpet vendors were out in force but there are no tourists yet
I took an hour's break during the afternoon to investigate the souvenir shops along Kabul's delightfully-named Chicken Street. No chickens on sale, as far as I could see, but enough rugs, metal ware and jewellery to keep bus-loads of tourists happy.

No tourists, either - the only other shoppers I spotted were a jeep-load of Scandinavian ISAF peacekeepers, on the hunt for a memento from Kabul.

For an ageing 60s child like me, all the Afghan sheepskin jackets brought back fond memories of flower power and hippies - but I resisted the temptation to buy one and ended up with just a few trinkets for the family.

Tomorrow I'm planning a little jaunt out of town. Some parts of the country are still not regarded as safe enough to travel in, but I've taken advice and am looking forward to a day out of the city.

I'll take the satellite telephone, but goodness knows if I'll be able to email from wherever we decide to spend the night.

Watch this space!


to listen to Robin Lustig's reports from Afghanistan for The World Tonight on Radio 4.

Read earlier instalments of Robin's Kabul diary below:

Day five: Rebirth of political dialogue
Day four: Out of Kabul to the Salang tunnel
Day three: Red-hot rhetoric
Day two: Slow start for loya Jirga
Day one: Giant tent awaits delegates


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11 Jun 02 | South Asia
10 Jun 02 | South Asia
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