Saturday, March 22, 2014

Remembering Sardar Ahmad --- The senior reporter for Agence France-Presse in Kabul, Sardar Ahmad, was shot dead along with his wife Humaira and two of their three children in a Taliban attack on a hotel on Thursday. Here his bureau chief Ben Sheppard reflects on a much-loved colleague. -- Three children's balloons rest, now half-deflated, on Sardar's desk. Just a day or two ago, he bought them from a street vendor who he had snapped on his camera-phone on his way to work. -- It was typical Sardar, always arriving for the morning shift with a story about something that he had been up to on the streets of Kabul, always fun, always colourful, always thinking about his children. -- Clever, informed, stylish and bubbling with boyish enthusiasm, Sardar was a five-star journalist, a friend to all at AFP -- and a man who impressed every single person he ever met. -- He loved the story in Afghanistan, had a deep knowledge of the news, and an effortless ability to explain the country to outsiders. He loved office banter, he loved the camaraderie at work, but he loved even more going home to his adored wife Humaira and family. -- Three small photographs of his three small children are stuck on the right-hand edge of his computer screen -- always in his eyesight. He often said they were the whole focus of his life. -- He recently bought a treadmill as part of a health-kick and described with delight how his children would run in front of him shouting at him to go faster. -- On Fridays, the weekly day off, he would often stay at home and cook lunch, taking great pride in preparing a dish that his children liked. -- He brought his beautiful young daughter Nilofar on a recent office outing to Kabul's only bowling alley, and one could see the huge joy both of them got from each other's company. -- He made her laugh. And she made him laugh even more. -- Sardar was at his best that evening -- hugely social, competitive, naturally talented and full of happiness at being out with friends, playing games, talking and eating and teasing and joking and winning. He was simply a success at life, picked out as a rare talent by AFP and soon rising to become the number-one reporter in his field. --- And he was ambitious too. Keen to be his own man, he set up a side-business as a media guru, running the Kabul Pressistan company. Only Sardar could have done it in parallel with full-time duties at AFP. - More, Ben Sheppard, at: --- or,


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