For the third time in two weeks I have just been forced off the road by convoys of vehicles.
The first occasion involved two Landcruisers with the mandatory black tinted windows. After forcing me into the ditch, they passed at speed, only to halt 100 m later. Out stepped a high ranking Pashtun delegation. I raised a finger as I drove by.
Today, in short succession, it happened again. I was bringing my son and his playmate to a venue for a rare chance to have a run around. I was about to turn left at a juncton, when I noticed the lead car in an approaching convoy flashing its headlights at me. As I was significantly closer to the intersection, I ignored it and made the turn. But a short way down the road the three Landcruisers shouldered by me, horns blaring, again pushing me off the road. Predictably,about 300m on, they all turned and pulled into compound of a well known local commander.
Around they next corner, I was pushed to the side of the road by a guard with the usual AK47. Irate, I questioned who we were waiting for now.
‘The assistant to the Honorable Khalili’.
Khalili is a former warlord, now rehabilitated as an MP. Even his assistants now travel in three car convoys with black windows, road closures and an attitude to match.
I felt annoyed. Unreasonably, perhaps. But this habit of leaders assuming total rights over ordinary people- pulling rank, if you like – is offensive. It is, I suspect, an outcome of the way the foreign military conduct themselves. They set the example of impunity, privilege and arrogance, through forcing their way through any traffic simply by threating to shoot (or, by shooting) those who resist them. They too, set the example of black tinted windows, no number plates, and anonymous, agressive, bullying driving. And now any one who can afford it travels in similar fashion. It is not surprising that ordinary Afghans are angry at this corruption and misuse of power.
‘What sort of country has Afghanistan become?’ I asked the guard.
‘It’s the people who blow themselves up who have brought it to this’, was the reply.
Maybe. Or maybe the lure of being above the law is just too tempting. The idea of being special, untouchable, privileged.
A few minutes later Khalili’s assistant passed, four vehicles, Landcruisers, black windows, lights flashing. After another minute we were allowed to pass.
It took me half an hour or so, but I got over it. And the kids had a great play.
Autumn leaves at the play area we sometimes visit.