Kites returned to most areas of Afghanistan after the Taliban government left office in 2002 when American troops entered the country. The Taliban had banned kite flying as a frivolous and 'non-Islamic' activity. Kites again took to the skies in the nation's capital, Kabul, right after the exit of the Taliban regime.
Some areas of Afghanistan remained under local Taliban influence long after a new government was installed in Kabul. In these areas, kite making and kite flying were still not permitted.
Recently, the Polish Battle Group, part of a coalition force that is patrolling parts of Afghanistan in support of the new government, entered Ghazni province’s Andar district. Here, kite flying was still banned due to the local influence of Taliban sympathizers.
Since there is a strong tradition of kite making and kite flying in the Afghan culture (see previous stories in this Blog), the Polish troops came equipped with kites to aid them in making friends with the local residents.
Speaking to Black Anthem Military News, Polish Pfc Chris Demko reported:
“It seems like time stopped here 2,000 years ago. We see these kids running around with nothing, not even shoes, and we want to change that.”
Everywhere they went, children crowded around the vehicles as the smiling soldiers pulled out boxes of shoes, clothes, school supplies and toys. But the biggest hit of all were the multi-colored kites that the soldiers unfolded for them.
With big grins and excited chattering, the children jumped up and down shouting, “Patang! Patang!” (the Pashto word for kite.)
Soon the sky had several of the yellow, green and red kites with International Security Assitance Forces logos flying, much to the delight of the children dancing around below.
“These kites are so much fun,” said Mahmad-Amid Hahn, a 12-year- old boy, as he made whooping sounds while his kite dipped and swerved in the air. “The Taliban would never give us these things.”
For the children who had never seen a kite before, some of the Polish soldiers stepped in to assist, unfolding the kites and showing them how to take off with a running start to get it airborne.
In addition to the kites, the Polish forces distributed food, clothing, medical supplies and school supplies in an effort to assist the local people.
The kites that quickly climbed into the skies, however, seemed to be a large symbol that things had changed in the region.
Photo credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Micah E. Clare