The goddess of Taliban country

H. M. Naqvi in the Global Post:

ScreenHunter_02 May. 05 12.14 The road into Baluchistan is dual carriage, the topography is flat. There are fronds in the sand, an occasional crooked tree and the intimation of the sea. Narrow scratched paths lead inland and close to the horizon, we can make out clusters of structures — mud rooms, thatched tents — and the local population: tanned fishermen and women and children.

Not more than two hours into the journey, we turn left at a solitary petrol pump attached to a roadside restaurant. After announcing ourselves at a checkpoint — hum Hingol ja rahay hain — we cruise down the Makran Coastal Highway.

I am riding shotgun in a Jeep with a mangy, taciturn, chain-smoking adventurer. He offers me a dry omelet-and-hunter-beef sandwich. I take a bite. It is difficult to swallow but I don’t protest. Who knows when sustenance will be offered next?

We have entered the badlands of Pakistan, the purported seat of the resurgent Taliban. Somewhere across the expanse lurks Mullah Omar, the murderous, indefatigable, one-eyed leader of the shura. Although there is strength in numbers — we are traveling in a caravan of 11 vehicles comprising the Off Roaders Club – we are only armed with poles, pegs, hammers and other camping equipment. I’m no outdoorsman, no adventurer. I wonder what the hell I am doing in Baluchistan.

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