Know and love what you fight for. Cromwell
ROLLING BY rich upland farming areas, black earth and haystacks like fat mushrooms, we were traveling north, Hamidullah, the driver and I, away from sweltering Peshawar, through the Malakand Pass, into Bajaur. Poplars lined the narrow blacktop road, schoolboys darted past lines of plodding buffalo in the late afternoon sun. Men were down by the river washing their trucks in the shallows. The driver liked what he saw: he probably came from some bare hill in Afghanistan. In fact Afghans had coveted this land since it was lost by Abdur Rahman to the British in the nineteenth century.
We were driving up to the border to meet Hamidullah's old commander from Kunar. Hamidullah himself was accompanying a printing press on to Chitral in northern Pakistan. Although Hamidullah and the driver didn't speak English, they managed to ask me in Pashto if I had papers to go into the restricted tribal border area. No, of course not. Didn't they have a plan? We all laughed, but the Pakistani police could stop us at any time and take me into custody for being in a tribal area without permission and kick me out of Pakistan. As it turned out, the police were stretched out on their rope beds and couldn't care less.
We arrived in the refugee camp where Khan Jan lived just after six in the evening; Mayar Camp had grown up next to the Pakistani village called Mayar. Commander Khan Jan, it turned out, was inside Afghanistan. Hamidullah briefly described my situation to the other people standing around in his courtyard, turned down many appeals to stay—and literally ran out the gate. Later I thought I realized why he was in such a rush. After serving under Khan Jan for several years, Hamidullah was now working for another commander in another party. Hamidullah had left Khan Jan and diminished the commander's honor; meeting again would have been awkward for both sides. I was on my own.
With the setting of the sun, the atmosphere at Khan Jan's house changed. It was a gathering place, and as men arrived a cloth was spread on the ground,