March 11, 2012
Well, so much for the 'peaceful' part of Panjwaii
Today's unprovoked shootings of women and children in the Panjwaii district villages of Balandi-Alkozai*, allegedly by a single American serviceman, are a horrible indication of how little the U.S. surge into Afghanistan can be said to have helped the inhabitants of the area Canadians once worked in.
Remember, though, we Canadians chose to leave Panjwaii, so we're in no way responsible for what happened after our replacements showed up. Let's just keep telling ourselves that, k?
*Location on this one's a little uncertain to me. There was a small village of Alkoz(a)i about 5 km east of FOB Masum Ghar, south of what we called Route FOSTERS, halfway to Salavat. What Canadians called and patrolled as "Belanday" in the last couple rotos of the tour is a larger predominantly Noorzai-clan village 10 km further east (too far for it to be involved in the same incident with Alkozai village), but that village was technically in the Dand (sort of the "greater Kandahar City" district). (That district border with Panjwaii tends to be a bit fuzzy, too, though.) I seem to recall a hamlet close to Alkozai called something similar, so for now I'm going to assume reporters have got the district right (and that the Noorzai Belanday's still considered part of the Dand, for that matter) and this atrocity didn't occur in the Dand(ish) Belanday. The other possibility is that this was the larger Belanday, which would really be even more of a tragedy: Canadians poured a lot of resources into making that a peaceful, friendly village. Will correct if it turns out I'm off there.
Alkozai, of course, is named after a Pashtun subtribe (aka Alikozai), and (at least until now) a relatively pro-government one, that dominated commercial business in Panjwaii and whose elders "held the Arghandab" for President Karzai, for a time, anyway.
"endearingly macho" -- Mark Steyn
"wonderfully detailed analysis" -- John Allemang, Globe and Mail
"unusually candid" -- Tom Ricks, Foreignpolicy.com
Bill & Bob
Ghosts of Alex