Reading Zaeef: 16. A Hard Realisation
Reading Abdul Salam Zaeef: My Life with the Taliban:
When I reached Kandahar, the city was in chaos. Kabul had fallen only two days previously, and a cloud of sorrow hung over those left in Kandahar. I went straight to the headquarters that had been set up in a new building inside the city. I wanted to meet Mullah Mohammad Omar.
He was not at the office and I waited for a while. An hour after I left, the headquarters was attacked by the US air force. The airstrike destroyed the building, but luckily no one was killed. Since the attack and my departure had happened in such quick succession, Mullah Mohammad Omar suspected that I was under surveillance and that meeting me would endanger him.
I was on my way to Mullah Mohammad Omar’s old house, which stood empty behind a jihadi madrassa, when another airstrike hit close to my car. The shock wave of the cruise missile destroyed my Thuraya satellite phone. After the second attack Mullah Mohammad Omar was certain that my position was being tracked. Perhaps it was true, and perhaps it was connected to my satellite phone; only God knows, but after my phone was destroyed I had no more near misses.
Some minutes later, the Russian state news agency, ITAR-TASS, announced that the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan had been killed in a cruise missile attack in Kandahar. It was only a short news bulletin, but I knew why the Russians had said this.
Despite all my documents—the protection I should have had under international law, even the letter from the United Nations stated that “the bearer of this letter should not be harmed due to his status of representation”—three vehicles pulled up at my door at midnight. All the roads were blocked and guards posted. Even journalists who were there at the time were denied access. I wasn’t allowed to speak to them to let people know what had taken place. They ordered me to leave my house. My children were crying as I walked out through the garden into the street.
If it hadn’t happened to me, it would be hard to imagine that the Pakistani soldiers—trained to defend Islam—would turn on their Muslim brothers even when they had committed no crime. In fact, no law offered justification for what they were doing, but American pressure, the anger of its people and the hope of a lucky break turned them against us. I find it difficult to understand how they could abandon their honour and self-respect; how they could turn against the word of the Holy Qur’an and its customs of bravery and hospitality; how they could ignore international laws and even the humblest notions of brotherhood and sympathy.
As I walked into the street and out into the thick dark night, it struck me that there was no one who could rescue me, nobody to prevent them from doing whatever they wanted.
Posted by b on December 31, 2010 at 06:28 AM | Permalink
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