Just returned from a trip to the Nad e Ali region and no matter how long you spend here or how many return visits you make, I would challenge anyone not to be left open-jawed at the incredible history littering the countryside in Afghanistan. Obviously military minds and focus are on more important matters of life and death ninety-nine percent of the time. But just occasionally you come across relics of the past lying around as if it were yesterday. Northern Nad e Ali was one of the hubs for the development of the canal and irrigation systems by the Americans in the 1950s; it also saw some fairly fierce fighting when the Soviet Union launched its campaign in the 1980s. As a result, the empty carcasses of Soviet tanks are strewn across areas of wasteland alongside wooden farming trucks and trailers that look like they’ve come straight out of the Waltons.
Quite a museum of foreign campaigns and a stark reminder that we are just this century’s visitors to a country with a unsettled past.