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A Different View of Afghanistan

Photos and captions by James Lee
Steeped in flour, a skillful hand stamps patterns into bread bound for Afghan Border Police in Goshta districDaily Bread -- Steeped in flour, a skillful hand stamps patterns into bread bound for Afghan Border Police in Goshta district, Nangarhar province on April 14, 2010. Once decorated, the dough is fired in a round clay oven dug into the kitchen floor. By utilizing traditional food processes and products, Afghan National Security Forces have reduced their daily dependence on foreign governments. Applying this principle beyond the kitchen will be necessary before Afghanistan can assert independence and national sovereignty.
Seated behind a Chinese-made Butterfly sewing machine, Rahulla Zobid Ibrahim skillfully handles a plain-weave shirting selected for a traditional tunic in Midan SharLong Stitch -- Seated behind a Chinese-made Butterfly sewing machine, Rahulla Zobid Ibrahim skillfully handles a plain-weave shirting selected for a traditional tunic in Midan Shar, the capitol of Wardak province, on April 3, 2010. As a lifelong tailor, Ibrahim has witnessed the ever-changing patterns of conflict in Afghanistan. "I have seen the Russians, the Taliban and now the Americans," said Ibrahim. "All this time I have worked in a tailor shop."

Below the Arabic phrase Masha Allah, a mirror mounted to the decorated cab of a freight truck reflects a dirt road leading to the main AfPak border crossing in Goshta districtEvil Eye -- Below the Arabic phrase Masha Allah, a mirror mounted to the decorated cab of a freight truck reflects a dirt road leading to the main AfPak border crossing in Goshta district, Nangarhar province on April 14, 2010. This phrase is commonly used in South Asia to ward off the evil eye. This superstition pertains to bad luck or injury caused by the envious eyes of others. Regardless of the potential supernatural risks, thousands of people engage in cross-border movements each day, often motivated by economic or social reasons.

Facing dust-loaded dry winds, Afghan Border Police officer Masoud Sayed watches for signs of trouble along the Durand Line in NangarharDurand Line -- Facing dust-loaded dry winds, Afghan Border Police officer Masoud Sayed watches for signs of trouble along the Durand Line in Nangarhar province on April 15, 2010. Drawn with British ink in the late 19th century by Officer Henry Mortimer Durand, this borderline bisected tribal lands in a largely unsuccessful attempt to eliminate Pashtun opposition to English interests. Contemporary Afghans seldom recognize the Durand Line, which demarks the North West Frontier province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Both areas have become havens for criminals and guerrilla fighters who fervently denounce foreign interference in the region.
A pair of Afghan Border Police watches a female singer from a local spin-off of "American Idol" on a satellite phone in Goshta districtSmall Screen -- A pair of Afghan Border Police watches a female singer from a local spin-off of "American Idol" on a satellite phone in Goshta district, Nangarhar province on April 15, 2010. As Afghanistan’s broadcast media expands, the government has begun to censor some programming that subverts Islamic values. Officials with the Ministry of Culture have questioned employees at private television stations about music videos that feature women in nontraditional clothing.
Before being pocketed, a soldier in the Afghan National Army inspects a scored seedpod during a poppy eradication operation near the Pakistan borderPapaver Somniferum (Opium Poppy) -- Before being pocketed, a soldier in the Afghan National Army inspects a scored seedpod during a poppy eradication operation near the Pakistan border in Goshta district, Nangarhar province on April 17, 2010. An annual flower, the opium poppy seedpod can produce a milky sap when scratched. Laden with powerful opiates like morphine, this sap is typically harvested from a series of parallel cuts and dried for the illegal heroin trade. This multibillion-dollar crop has spread corruption throughout the Afghan National Security Forces and directly financed a regional guerrilla war.

 

See more of James Lee's photography on page three of A Different View of Afghanistan

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