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The bursting 'Ka-bubble': Taliban extremism is remaking a once-cosmopolitan Kabul

Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Still, the attendant said, people seemed to be getting used to the sight of gunmen on the rides. Fridays — the first day of the weekend in Afghanistan — were booming again in City Park. Indeed, since the August airlift, that sense of the Taliban as fait accompli, and of trying to find some way of reconciling with the group, is growing.

Some have chosen to help as best they can. Sultanzoy, the mayor, didn’t join high-ranking officials — including former President Ashraf Ghani, now in the United Arab Emirates — in fleeing. Ghani’s departure had left Sultanzoy feeling “very betrayed, and I didn’t want to play a similar part in betraying those I was supposed to serve in this city.”

“And I thought right now is the time to mention to the Taliban by actions that, ‘We’re here, that this is also our country, and we have nothing to hide or hide from,’” Sultanzoy said.

“You came with a military victory. We’re here to serve this nation if you’re willing to allow us.”

Others believe that the Taliban should be the one to change.

“The Taliban will have to learn to deal with this. We must help them,” Barna said, adding that one of the Taliban gunmen patrolling Shor Bazaar had expressed interest in music.


If that effort didn’t succeed, Barna had other plans: Sitting in his cramped studio among the carcasses of harmoniums and other instruments, he took out a knife.

“I made it yesterday,” he said.

“I don’t have a problem with anyone. But if someone wants to harm me ... .”

His eyes were reddened and glassy as he looked down at the curve of the blade.

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