National Geographic : 1993 Oct
THINK ABOUT THESE MEN often in my travels throughout Afghanistan. They symbolize the nation's challenges. If they can come to grips with one another, then anything is possible. I recall the words of historian Muhammad Eshaq. "This was not a war of brother against brother," he told me, "but of right against wrong. We accept all our brothers now." On a summer evening shortly after a new Islamic government took power, I go for a walk with Commander Muslim, chief of security to Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud. A dignified, broad-shouldered man, Muslim wears a soft smile on his round face. We stroll behind Massoud's house, the former guesthouse of President Najibullah, laughing at the trash still piled up from the days when communism reigned. One box used to hold Highland Cream Scotch Whisky. Another crated Arkhi, "The Original Mongo lian Vodka." "There won't be much of that with this Islamic government," he says with a chuckle. As he speaks of the future, the 32-year-old Afghan gets a distant look in his eyes. He is worried, he says. Can the new leaders restore law and order? Can they guarantee the safety of the capital? Can they rebuild the country? He stoops to pick up an empty, rusting pil sner beer can and tosses it onto a trash heap.