I as the sole pale face, with uncalloused hands, in this sea of tribesmen and warriors, would make an impromptu speech praising the Afghans for their resilience and ferocious resistance to the Soviet occupiers, and encouraging them to even greater efforts. Following my rather insipid discourse, two or three Afghans would rise and in succession deliver themselves of impassioned harangues with all the skill of master orators for which their race is so well known. The assemblage, inert to this point, would suddenly come to life and, with every few sentences uttered, spring to their feet and break into the chant, “God is Great!” The gist of their message always tended to be the same, that is, “Don’t send us food! Don’t give us sympathy! Don’t bother about medicine! Send us guns, guns and more guns! (…)
I myself felt intimidated – and we were supposedly on the same side. At the time, I felt absolutely nothing in common with the fighters in the circle around me and was under no illusion that our alliance was anything other than one of momentary convenience. Ironically, some twenty-five years later it was much the same band of mujahideen we had been exhorting to rise up and annihilate the Soviet occupiers who were engaged in deadly combat once again, this time against the occupying armies of the West.