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Eddie Mair | 11:57 UK time, Thursday, 30 June 2011

Hugh has been to Herat city, "one of the districts of Afghanistan where security is due to be handed over next month from ISAF to the Afghan army and police. Herat city only - not Herat province, which is still unstable and dangerous."

Herat airport

Herat airport

Hugh has been to Herat city, "one of the districts of Afghanistan where security is due to be handed over next month from ISAF to the Afghan army and police. Herat city only - not Herat province, which is still unstable and dangerous."

Herat airport

Herat airport

Brickworks? No.

Brickworks? No.

The minarets of Herat

The minarets of Herat. 53 metres high, and about six metres in diameter at the base.

The minarets of Herat

Five minarets remain; there used to be twenty. Some simply crumbled over time, and four were destroyed during carpet bombing and tank shelling by the USSR.

Decoration on Gowhar Shad mausoleum

Decoration on Gowhar Shad mausoleum. She was a politician, and a patron of the arts who commissioned the complex of which those minarets are now the only survivors.

Decoration on Herat's 800-year-old Friday mosque

Decoration on Herat's 800-year-old Friday mosque. This is Persian poetry - it advises a good life and belief in God as the best way to avoid the fires of Hell.

Friday mosque minaret

Friday mosque minaret.

Friday mosque calm

Friday mosque calm.

Friday mosque

The only alteration the Taliban made to this elaborately decorated mosque was to install the marble surface of the courtyard, replacing brick which they thought was too hot in the fierce Herat sun.

Herat playground

In a Herat playground.

Herat taxi

In a Herat taxi.

Herat taxi

Seven boys, two girls - the taxi is their school transport.

Suraya Pakzad

Suraya Pakzad, Voice of Women Organisation. She has received death threats for providing shelter for women who've been assaulted at home.

Guitars appear on dozens of Herat's motor-rickshaws

Guitars appear on dozens of Herat's motor-rickshaws - a symbol of
defiance: the Taliban smashed up guitars.

Herat security

Herat security. Afghan, not ISAF.

Walking to the airport

Walking to the airport.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Your report today was very thought provoking.

    Both the Taliban and the Pakistani authorities seem to be cottoning on to a hallowed Brit (now US and Nato) game. The idea is to hold the balance of force and regulate the flow of attacks that each side makes on the other. Meanwhile you keep things boiing by exploiting religious ethnic or political differences. The aim is to bring about changes in both sides when it dawns on them that they are locked in, with you calling the shots so to speak.
    The game is up when both sides decide they don't hate each other as much as they do you.
    Then it's time to run.
    It'll happen in Libya soon, too. First, the rebels realise the position stalemate puts them in, with respect to the US, UK, France and Italy. Then all Libyans start taking a dim view of French troops crossing the Tunisian border.
    Or perhaps not. Nato instead wins the 'balance of powers' game and the rebels believe the elections they hold are democratic when they merely confirm Nato hegemony in a Libya destroyed by civil war.

  • Comment number 2.

    I really love the photos of the mosque - the decoration is beautiful. But I am particularly grateful to you, Hugh, for posting those photos of the children in the taxi. Your report, with their innocent laughter, still rings in my ears, and it is wonderful to see their lovely faces.

    I am sure I'm not the only listener who is relieved to know that you were not in the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul the other day. Please keep safe.

  • Comment number 3.

    Those minarets look like Battersea Power Station from a distance! Agree re beautiful photos of the Mosques & decoration, really enjoyed your report the other day as well, your reports always seem to report the real heart of the people & places you visit

  • Comment number 4.

    Goodness, that place you are reporting, Hugh, sounds like the pits. Irresponsible, hugely in debt, at war with the world, polluting the planet, on the side of dictators across the Arab world....and the children obese whilst the country their President comes from is wracked by famine.

 

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