19 August 2011

Thoughts from Kabul: British Consul Attack

Iftar Friend

Staying at a hotel located 1.5 mile from the British Council, my friend and I woke this morning not to the sounds of explosion but to an emergency message from my US Embassy highlighting the attack and advising citizens to avoid unnecessary travel.
With independence day celebrations today and advisement earlier this week of heightened security risks, this attack matches the warning. And I continue to be concerned: I'm monitoring the news for further attacks, perhaps at the independence celebrations starting soon at Ghazi Stadium.
Today's heightened risk sees me staying in the security of my hotel; though I'm normally wandering the streets. Whereas the constant, low-grade, fear of attack has kept aid workers and foreign government employees behind their compound walls, I've been walking the streets of Kabul these past 10 days, (since I've arrived). In this time I've only seen two westerners. And numerous Afghans have alluded to what is largely an invisible presence. English-speaking Afghans mention they have never spoken with one of the 150,000 English-Speaking foreigners in-country. As an American here for tourism and exploring the pointy end of American foreign policy, I'm seeing that my simple presence on the streets may have greater affect than the well-wishers spending money from their office blocks. Returning to the same restaurant for iftar the past three nights, I've had Afghans ask to see mobile phone pictures of America that I shared the previous nights. While I'm only here for personal reasons, this cultural outreach may be what is most needed.

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