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Words in the News
Wednesday 17 October 2001
Vocabulary from the news. Listen to and read the report then find explanations of difficult words below.

  Warlord, Abdur Rasheed Dostam
Summary: Ian MacWilliam explains why Mazar-e-Sharif matters in the struggle for Afghanistan.
The News Listen  
  Mazar-e-Sharif guards Afghanistan's northern plains. Built around a magnificent blue-tiled mausoleum - or mazar - reputed to be that of Ali, it is one of Afghanistan's four great cities. It sits astride the ancient trade route between Central Asia and India.

If Mazar-e-Sharif were to fall to the anti-Taleban opposition it would provide them - and potentially even American forces - with a powerful base from which to consolidate control over all of northern Afghanistan. The Taleban have controlled Mazar-e-Sharif for the past four years, but it isn't natural territory for the purist Pushtun militiamen. Mazar's people are mostly Uzbeks and Tajiks. They speak Persian and, before the Taleban's arrival, they'd become used to a relatively liberal lifestyle under their one-time communist leader, the warlord Abdur Rasheed Dostam.

Dostam has a record of switching sides when convenient, and there are many Taleban supporters who would do likewise if the fortunes of the puritan militia are on the decline.

The Words Listen
a tomb, built above a grave

  reputed to be
said to be

  it sits astride
it sits across



someone who is very careful to practise and preserve the correct or customary ways of doing things

  a record of switching sides when convenient
a history of shifting loyalties when necessary

in the same way

a person who has rather hard, fixed standards of behaviour and self-control


Other Words in the News archives


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