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Afghanistan, Civil War – The Less Travelled Road

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The flotsam and jetsam from the battle for Kabul – men and women, young and old – waited for the chance to cross into a new life. Sweltering in the midday sun, some clung to bundles or rough bags, but most were empty-handed as they waited, staring through the rusted barbed wire and barricades. On the other side of the border, thirty Pakistani policemen formed ranks behind the gates that closed the road to the multitude and the long line of vehicles stretching back into Afghanistan. The Khyber pass had been closed for two hours, now they began to pull back the road-block and moved to re-open the gates.

The refugees, sensing another chance for freedom, came to life and pressed against the jagged fence. Incensed, a Pakistani officer began yelling at them to move back. Immediately screams of pain came from within the crowd as four Mujahideen, none older than eighteen, cut a swathe through the refugees to the gates.The first two swung at the crowd with thick hosepipes, another used a rocket powered grenade (R.P.G.) as a baton, while the last used the visual menace of his heavy calibre machine gun to push back the crowd.

As the Pakistanis dragged one gate open and the first truck edged forward, twenty refugees saw their chance and, slipping past the young toughs, they climbed up onto the old vehicle. It seemed for a moment that they would be missed, as the Pakistanis concentrated their blows on the refugees trying to squeeze by on either side. Then the order was given and the police scrambled up the sides, their batons falling indiscriminately. In their panic to escape, two Afghans fell heavily to the ground, only to be met by more blows that forced them hobbling back through the gate. Its back cleared, the truck passed through and once again Afghanistan began to empty like floodwaters through a spillway.

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