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South Asia

Afghanistan: the importance of being there

Nicholas van Praag's picture

I spent a lot of time this week hanging out with my friend Edward Girardet. He’s in Washington, D.C. ahead of the launch of his book that traces the history of international engagement in Afghanistan over the past 30 years or so. 

Killing the Cranes is a deeply personal tale that includes Massoud and Girardetan account of Girardet’s brush with Osama Bin Laden before he (Osama) became a household name. He also describes trekking through the Hindu Kush to interview the leader of the United Front, Ahmed Shah Massoud, during the war against the Soviet Union. This photograph captures that encounter.

Girardet has reported on the region ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and has known three generations of aid workers.  I asked him if they had changed.