... But for a visiting journalist who has been here before, who has meandered through the villages of Logar and bought jars of sticky honey beside the roads and chatted comfortably with elders, it feels surreal, confining and terribly sad to return in a veritable tank -- peering through bullet-proof glass at a once-familiar landscape, drawing sullen stares from people who once smiled and invited curious foreigners in for tea.
That was still possible two years ago, before the insurgents got bolder and started burning schools and threatening teachers and beheading government employees as spies, before people in Logar and other provinces began to respect and fear the Islamist rebels more than the weak and corrupt national government.
It was possible before many Afghans, who had welcomed Western forces with open arms after the defeat of Taliban rule in 2001, began to see them as interlopers and gold diggers and oppressors from a decadent way of life, before any reported abuse by foreign troops became accepted as fact, before a Westerner browsing in a vegetable market became a potential target instead of a guest... (link)
Monday, March 9, 2009
Veteran foreign correspondent Pamela Constable has recently been reporting from Logar province, where US forces have upped their footprint of late. Their task there may be an uphill one: "Officials say most Logaris, though frustrated by poor government services, have not yet decided where their loyalties lie," she writes. Earlier, she reflected on the differences she sees between her previous visit and today: