Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's moment of triumph was brief. Even before his soldiers had overrun the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque—a complex in the heart of the normally sleepy capital of Islamabad that had been occupied by extremists—the retaliations began.
In case a Taliban fighter wonders what is expected of him, he can now refer to a nine-page, blue and white, pocket-size pamphlet called the Layeha, which Mullah Mohammed Omar began distributing last month.
You don't have to drive very far from Kabul these days to find the Taliban. In Ghazni province's Andar district, just over a two-hour trip from the capital on the main southern highway, a thin young man, dressed in brown and wearing a white prayer cap, stands by the roadside waiting for two NEWSWEEK correspondents.
Urbane, dapper hamid karzai has always come off well in the international spotlight. But the Afghan president looked decidedly uncomfortable last week as he addressed his own nation following a riot in Kabul on May 29--triggered by a deadly traffic accident between a U.S. military convoy and civilian vehicles that killed seven people.
Even with all the troubles that followed, Mohammad Gulab says he's still glad he saved the U.S. Navy SEAL. "I have no regrets for what I did," the 32-year-old Afghan told NEWSWEEK recently. "I'm proud of my action." Nevertheless, he says, "I never imagined I would pay such a price." Last June, foraging for edible plants in the forest near his home in the Kunar-province village of Sabray, Gulab discovered a wounded commando, the lone survivor of a four-man squad that had been caught in a Taliban...
In the privacy of his sparsely furnished house in Kabul, a veteran Afghan Interior Ministry official says the situation may already be hopeless. Although he has no authorization to speak with the press, and he could be in personal danger if his identity became known, he's nevertheless too worried to keep silent. "We are losing the fight against drug traffickers," he says. "If we don't crack down on these guys soon, it won't be long until they're in control of everything."His pessimism is...
Surrounded by a bevy of bodyguards, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad quickly strode out of the house of Afghan presidential candidate Yunus Qanooni and through a gaggle of journalists waiting outside. "The real show is inside," said the impeccably dressed, Afghan-born envoy as he rushed to his armored car last week, after the country's first post-Taliban presidential election.
During the reign of the Taliban, when movies, music, television and women's education were banned, Roya Sadat wanted to be a filmmaker. She wrote scripts, and studied books on drama and moviemaking that had been smuggled in from neighboring Iran. "I always had hope that change would come one day," says Sadat, 23.
Even before the polling booths closed in Afghanistan's first-ever direct presidential election, all 15 candidates running against incumbent Hamid Karzai denounced the election as a fraud and refused to recognize the results.The resulting turmoil bewildered the millions of Afghan voters, most of whom were casting their first ballots ever.
Outwardly, Osama bin Laden's protectors in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan affect a haughty unconcern. Taliban fighters in Pakistan, interviewed last week, laughed at the spectacle of a disheveled and down-and-out Saddam Hussein getting hoisted out of his hole, utterly abandoned by aides and bodyguards who once pledged to die for him.Taliban fighters hiding in plain sight in Pakistan say this will never be the fate of bin Laden, his deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri or Mullah Mohammed Omar,...
Gray-bearded and almost toothless, Khan Kaka lives in a mud house with a weather-beaten pine door beside a little plot of corn and vegetables. But to his neighbors in this corner of Afghanistan's remote Kunar province, the gangling, tobacco-chewing old man is one of the most respected figures in the Pech River valley.