Born to kill

Published: September 11, 2012

The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban

“There can be peace”, stated the notorious Afghan warlord sitting cross-legged across the carpet from me in the air-conditioned cool of his palatial Kabul home. “Yes, there can be but … not until we have killed all of the enemies first”.

He is serious — more serious than I have ever seen him before. His deep-set eyes flash fire, his mouth is set in grim determination, he is primed and ready to kill right now which, under the circumstances, is understandable. Pacha Khan Zadran is in mourning for three family members who were assassinated just days ago. The jeep they were travelling in was blown to smithereens by an improvised explosive device in Paktia province. He lusts for vengeance and he will, no doubt, have it. And, if he dies before achieving this aim, he still has eight sons, all replicas of himself, to ensure that an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, is taken from the enemy.

The problem for Pacha Khan Zadran and others of his ilk in identifying the ‘enemy’ is that, the enemy has changed sides too many times to count, during the last 40 years of continual warfare and civil strife. The enemy is legion and in his own words: “Someone who was once a friend is the most dangerous enemy of all because he knows you”.

Zadran talked peace at the Washington Conference called in the wake of the Twin Towers debacle and again during the Bonn Conference soon after. On each occasion, he insisted that there would only be peace once every single Haqqani and Talib was killed. A negotiated settlement is total anathema to him and those cast in the same mould.

When asked about his opinion on the recent announcement made by an unnamed American official — that the three Afghan border provinces of Paktika, Khost and his own Paktia could be offered to the Haqqani network and the Taliban in exchange for unarmed cooperation — he laughs and says: “The Americans are not stupid. They cannot give away three provinces of Afghanistan to Pakistan. They are up to something”.

The suggestion that such an action could encourage Haqqani and the Taliban to move en masse to these provinces, instead of being scattered throughout Afghanistan as they currently are, and then be ‘taken care of’ meets with derision. “If they seriously wanted to take out Haqqani and the Taliban, they could have done it years ago. They know the exact locations of the Haqqani network and the Taliban camps on both sides of the border. They have no need to entice them to these three provinces. They can wipe them out any time they want. The big question is: why have they not done so yet? I tell you, they are up to something”.

More men arrive to offer their condolences and as they are not allowed in this inner sanctum, Pacha Khan Zadran rises to go and meet them in his guest house just inside the heavily guarded front gate. As he escorts me and my companion out, he repeats over his shoulder: “The enemy must all be killed”. This heartfelt statement underlined the harsh truth: There can be no peace in Afghanistan unless a miracle occurs.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • John B
    Sep 11, 2012 - 11:41PM

    The history of the Islamic rulers of the subcontinent indicates that in the end the rulers son will be his own enemy- born to kill.

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  • sabi
    Sep 11, 2012 - 11:42PM

    This man has wisdom- Americans are not stupid but those who underestimate them.

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  • Arifq
    Sep 12, 2012 - 12:04AM

    “He who knows the enemy and himself will never in a hundred battles be at risk; He who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes win and sometimes lose; He who knows neither the enemy nor himself will be at risk in every battle” – Sun-Tzu The Art of Warfare.

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  • Falcon
    Sep 12, 2012 - 12:59AM

    Interesting encounter indeed.

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  • IceSoul
    Sep 12, 2012 - 1:14AM

    Pakistanis must have the same mentality. The Taliban have destroyed our country and Afghanistan and Zadran is right in saying that they must all be killed.

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  • sarah
    Sep 12, 2012 - 2:46AM

    Exactly. Every one now is wise enough to say that America is up to something which is definitely something with a bitter ending causing damages and they are quite capable of doing it.
    Feeling vengeance for having members of the family assasinated is just natural.The question is….who will repent at the end?

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  • Feroz
    Sep 12, 2012 - 6:57AM

    If Zadran feels that America is up to something by not attacking the Haqqani network why did the diligent author not ask him what he thought the Pakistani’s were up to by sheltering those guys in their territory ? How can asking questions without the right follow up ones ever convey the true picture.

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  • Jamshedd
    Sep 12, 2012 - 7:42AM

    “The suggestion that such an action could encourage Haqqani and the Taliban to move en masse to these provinces, instead of being scattered throughout Afghanistan as they currently are, and then be ‘taken care of’ meets with derision”

    Wow .. never thought this guy is such stupid to reveal this ..

    anyway if Americans know where exactly Taliban are hiding on both sides of border and still no operation against them even inside afghanistan .. then i must say .. they dont care of innocent ppls being killed but their vested interests ..

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  • Imran Con
    Sep 12, 2012 - 11:12AM

    @Jamshedd:
    um that’s not what that sentence means. The person is saying that they find it funny that some people believe that is what’s going on. That’s why it’s followed by him saying that they know where they are already. It’s him further stating such a move would be pointless so it has to be for some other reason.
    You seem to either look over the context, don’t know the definition of “derision” or both.

    Though it really doesn’t help any that there’s obviously something cut from that line. That sounds like a reply to a question he was asked. It’s just worded in a way so that they didn’t have to point out that they asked the man, themselves, “do you think the US may be trying to round them up to be taken care of easier?” To which he responded in that line.

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  • Babur Sohail
    Sep 12, 2012 - 1:47PM

    I wonder Nndita has nothing to say about this.

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  • Zalmai
    Sep 13, 2012 - 12:59AM

    Sometimes I wonder about the credibility and authenticity of these interviews conducted by this particular writer.

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  • Zalmai
    Sep 13, 2012 - 1:04AM

    I wonder if this interview was conducted through an interpreter and how much of it was lost in translation. Just a thought.

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  • ahmed41
    Sep 13, 2012 - 7:26PM

    We have seen Afghanistan in turmoil for the past 30+ years~~~~~war and killings have not helped to solve any of their problems. Can we not try something different, now ?

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