Michael's Dispatches



kid-in-panjwaiDeadly Panjwai in Kandahar Province

27 February 2011
Filed from Tarin Kot, Urozgan Province

Panjwai has been one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan.  Much Canadian, American, and Afghan blood has soaked into this ground.

According to the New York Times:

The districts of Panjwai and Zhare, rich agricultural areas along the Argandab River, are the original home base of many of the Taliban leaders, including Mullah Muhammad Omar.

The districts have been largely under Taliban control for the past four years, and clearing and securing them is expected to change the entire balance of security in Kandahar Province.

Equally interesting is that Panjwai and Zhare are not tucked away deep inside the Hindu Kush, shielded by mega-terrain and distance, but are just a short drive from Kandahar Airfield, one of the largest Coalition bases in the country.  The people in Panjwai/Zhare are fighters.  True Taliban.

Nevertheless, after countless military operations over the years, the Coalition does have a foothold in Panjwai/Zhare and is trying to expand its influence in part by investing in local projects.  I accompanied several members of Central Asia Development Group to visit a project they are implementing through USAID funding.

We entered Panjwai without support of Coalition forces to visit a water project.  Tension among the locals was thick.  I felt no hint of welcome other than we were not attacked.  Kids are a good barometer.  Normally, in other parts of Afghanistan, they are happy to have their photos made.  When this boy saw me lift the camera, he turned away.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Adam · 10 years ago
    Please be careful, you serve no one by getting hurt.
    Remember that the very nature of the things you dont know is that you dont know them.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    C. Ochsner · 10 years ago
    Thank you Michael Yon for the short insight.
    That sounds for me not as "progress", how other Medias and the military sources tells me. Kids are an indicator for the state of war zone. Mostly they are happy against all rules or they are very sad with tears in their eyes. This little boy is little Taliban. Strong and pride.
    Thank you and the team of CADG for the work and effort in this land full of contrasts. Respectfully ..
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Erik · 10 years ago
    Definitely an interesting place, I was there from oct 09 to june 10, Patrol base Sperwan Ghar, quite a bit of history around there and the battlefront when i was there anyway(they finally made the push back into zangabad/mushan...)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barb Niblock · 9 years ago
    Michael, doing a little research on Panjwai, thank you for the insight. I have a son-in-law being deployed there later in the month. Any updates on the area, please keep us updated on anything that you feel is needed. Thank you for all you do, a check will be forthcoming.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joe Norman · 9 years ago
    Everytime I see your photographs of children, I am reminded of how most of the rest of the world's children live. I could not imagine that for my son!

    We need to bring our people home to protect our country from more imminent, more sinister evils closer to our homeland. Afghanistan has swallowed up enough of our treasure and blood. It is time to leave.

    THANK YOU Michael for what you do. Be safe, and may GOD bless you and be with you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dee Jay · 9 years ago
    It's time to not only bring our forces home, but the money we keep spending in a country that still shows no sign of it, or of appreciation for it. We did our best. TIme to cut the ties and let it go. We need to come away with a valuable lesson. Fight to win and then come home. Done.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Ryden · 9 years ago
      Well, who'd show appreciation for the money? Most of it has just disappeared into the pockets of corrupt government officials, and they are bussy behaving like they hate the Western world as much as the Talibans, and who can really blame them? They know that they'll be on their own in 2014, so they're pretty much trying to save their own necks for when the Talibans take control of the country again.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Traci Wilberger · 9 years ago
    Michael when I heard this it broke my heart. It is time to go, although I fear for the Afghan people. Thoughts and prayers with the families of the victims as well as our soldier.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rose Burkhart · 9 years ago
    This young man you filmed in Panjwai seems older and wiser than his years, a bearing gained by acquired wisdom, wisdom necessary to stay alive amidst danger. The Lord willing, his intelligence has grown with his body. Perhaps he will one day be a leader who incorporates all he learned from your words and actions and the stories you told him of lands of freedom where a child may play and study in peace and safety.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    karen · 9 years ago
    so little...to little to die!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    roger francis · 9 years ago
    and that is why Michael we should no longer be there.
    The hostility to outsiders is centuries deep. Ask Ghengis Khan and Alexander the Great why they gave up on the place. USA, UK and NATO are being arrogant and niaive to believe that they can make a long-lasting difference. While we pour in dollars they'll take it...but for what gain? Why not the same involvement in Yemen or Somalia where AQ are stronger?
    Best we look nearer to home and take care of our own kids first.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Ryden · 9 years ago
      No offence, but both Khan and Alexander actually succeeded in Afghanistan. Khan killed everyone who came in his way, and Alexander had men settle there and marry with the Afghans and thus gained power in the dominant net of relations that determine the alliegence of the tribes.

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