Afghanistan’s Bandit Tradition


While decades of conflict have created a degree of anarchy and lawlessness across Afghanistan, within Afghan culture there have long been romanticized portrayals of bandits that continue to the present day. Pashtun culture in particular is highly egalitarian, with strongly pronounced streaks of both individualism and justice. The ideal Pashtun male is someone who is … Continue reading Afghanistan’s Bandit Tradition

Traces of Alexander the Great


Afghanistan has suffered from many invasions over the millennia, but perhaps the most famous of them all is that of Alexander the Great and his armies. I was familiar with this episode in history before I first visited Afghanistan, though my knowledge grew as I walked the ground. Something I began to wonder, however, was … Continue reading Traces of Alexander the Great

Malalai of Maiwand


Women in Afghanistan are perhaps thought of as meek or downtrodden, hidden beneath their chadors and subjugated by men. These stereotypes ignore the fact that even though Afghanistan remains one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, Afghan women are making headway against gale force cultural winds. Examples of women’s courage … Continue reading Malalai of Maiwand

The Taliban Layeha


In 2006, the Swiss newspaper Die Weltwoche published a fascinating document that they had acquired in Afghanistan – a set of “rules” for the Taliban. Although it is a very loosely organized group, with many claiming membership who don’t necessarily report to the leadership council, this was an interesting development. The Taliban still refer to … Continue reading The Taliban Layeha