Fw: [HD] Bombing turns Afghans against U.S.
Oct 12, 2001 10:02 AM
Traders bring back eye-witness accounts of bombing
Paul Gallagher In Peshawar
The Scotsman (Scotland); October 11, 2001
Allied military action is hardening Afghan resistance towards West
THE lorry drivers arriving at Gulbahar fruit market yesterday were
carrying with them an added commodity. Leaping from the cabs of
their trucks, each one of them has a story to trade about the
military onslaught on Afghanistan.
Despite the high state of military alert over the threatened civil war
in Pakistan, the cross-border fruit trade with Afghanistan continues
as normal and provides the only independent eye-witness accounts
of the effects of the US and British attacks.
Within the walled courtyard of Gulbahar Market in the frontier town
of Peshawar, the hauliers described the terror faced by residents in
Afghan cities and towns which they had left behind and also the
rising anger against the Western powers responsible for the
The US has described how it is dropping thousands of emergency
rations, along with bombs and missiles, in an attempt to win over
ordinary Afghans, but according to the drivers these are being
received more with incredulity and anger than with the gratitude
America had hoped for.
"We don't want their food parcels, people are burning them in the
street," one driver said. "How can they drop bombs from one plane
and then food from another? Only America is capable of such
Iqbal Anwar, who had just arrived from Kabul, said the residents in
the capital city were becoming traumatised after three nights of
bombardment. "People are trying to carry on with their normal lives,
but it's impossible to sleep at night with the sound of missiles and
jets flying overhead," he said.
"After the first night's bombing, they were able to go about their
business in the day before sheltering at night, but now the attacks
are in daylight as well. This is terrorism to the people of
Afghanistan. It is America and Britain who are the real terrorists."
Mr Anwar was in Kabul when the first bombing raids were launched
on Sunday night, and he loaded his truck with fruit at dawn
yesterday to drive to Peshawar, an eight-hour drive. "The border is
open to us, Pakistan needs fruit and business must go on," he
added. "There are not many signs of damage along the roads, but
there are many frightened women and children who want to find
somewhere safe but have nowhere to go."
None of the hauliers reported any signs that the attacks were
spreading discontent with the Taleban. Instead, they are hardening
support for the regime. "The Taleban will never fall because they
are the people of Afghanistan, and this is what the US and George
Bush does not understand," one driver said. Another haulier,
sipping green tea while a crowd of traders gathered to bid for his
consignment of grapes, said he had driven from Jalalabad
where there had been nightly explosions around the city since
"The situation is very bad. The people will never forgive America for
these attacks because innocent people are being hit and killed and
they have no defences. "I saw a house which had been destroyed
and we hear of people who have been injured and killed. "It is not
just military targets that are being hit. The Americans cannot win
because there is nothing for them to bomb and they cannot kill
everyone in Afghanistan."
In one corner of the courtyard, a group gathered around a transistor
radio to hear the latest bulletins on BBC World Service. Radio
Sharriat, the Kabul-based Afghan radio station, has been off air
in recent days and the Afghan drivers have to look elsewhere for
information on the air strikes. They sat in silence as news of the
Taleban's response to the attacks was announced and nodded in
unison to the defiant declaration of the Taleban spokesman which
was read out over the air.
"After these attacks, the Americans and British have declared war
on our people and we will fight back," one of them said.
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