In September 2005, it seemed from afar that things were going well for Afghanistan: so well that my first proposed story on that country had already been cut from twenty-five to fifteen minutes by an uninterested management before I even left Sydney. There was the perception that the country was on the right track, that Iraq was still the main game. Sure, there were still some isolated acts of violence, mostly in the border areas, but in the capital, Kabul, I was surprised at the lack of roadblocks, the presence of foreign troops and the ease with which foreigners travelled around the city in local taxis and sometimes on foot.
Maybe it was the company I was keeping but no-one seemed overly concerned about security. As I had been kidnapped in Baghdad the previous October, I was a little more cautious than others about potential threats. Still, I remember on the first night having drinks and socialising with a few old friends in a stylish bar in Kabul and thinking, well, maybe things weren’t going too badly, maybe the international community was welcome.
That feeling didn’t last long.
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