Life Goes On in the Capital

My Lonely Planet Afghanistan tells me that beer and alcohol are served at the restaurant of the Mustafa Hotel, but they aren't. Earlier this year the Karzai government banned alcohol in cafes and restaurants across Afghanistan as well as liquor brought into the country on commercial flights, reasoning that alcohol was haram, or forbidden, in a Muslim country. The move was a step back from the liberal democracy urged on the country by the US and the West and a step towards the harsh strictures enforced during Taliban rule, from 1994 to late 2001.

The Taliban attacks are coming increasingly close to Kabul of late, so it's no surprise that Karzai is offering Islamist hand-outs. Yet the Afghan capital remains vibrant.

A Friday evening stroll through one of its busier up-market neighborhoods turned up children flying kites 100-meters high and a heated volleyball game in Shahr-e-Nau park right next to a couple dozen deaf Afghans engaged in equally heated, if silent, discussion. Across the street from the park men played casual games of snooker next door to KFC, or Kabul Fried Chicken, over which the Colonel smiled, although I doubt he'd be entirely pleased with the flattery.

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