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The West consistently underestimates the Taliban

It was April 1995, and I was preparing to travel to Afghanistan for my first volunteer post with a UK charity. I had traveled to London to meet the Afghanistan director for the non-governmental organization (NGO) I was going to be working for and now sat in their tiny office facing him. My father had traveled to Afghanistan in the 1970s and loved it.

His stories had mesmerized me. After years of dreaming about going to Afghanistan, I would finally be on my way.

The author has an evening cuppa while searching for a lost convoy of medical supplies in remote Zibok district (1996). © Sippi Azarbaijani Moghaddam, Author provided

I was nervous and had no idea what to expect. Would I find the war-torn nation I had read about in the newspapers or the beautiful country photographed by Roland and Sabrina Michaud – photographers who roamed Afghanistan in the 1970s and captured a wealth of faces and landscapes in their incredible photobooks? I asked the director about the threat of the Taliban. He said: “Sippi, by the time the Taliban take Afghanistan, I’ll be dead and you’ll be an old lady.”



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