Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Afghanistan: The Mysteries of Kabul

AN icy wind blasted in our faces as we trudged up a rocky slope on the southern outskirts of Kabul, the war-shattered capital of Afghanistan. Around us rose a moonscape of treeless, dun-colored hills, broken by clusters of mud-walled squatter huts. I squinted into the sunlight, looking east toward the earthen citadel of Bala Hissar, a stronghold from the time of the Silk Road to the post-Soviet wars. High above us, another wall of mud brick and stone — a fragment of the ancient rampart of Kabul, constructed before the arrival of Islam in a futile attempt to defend the city against invaders from Arabia and Central Asia — snaked along the ridgeline.


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