16 Dec. 2008
PR# 2008-715

ISAF General mingles with locals


An Afghan boy flies a kite as his friends watch while sitting on a former Russian tank on Bibi Mahrow hill.  Bibi Mahrow hill overlooks the expansive Kabul area and is a popular place to relax and enjoy time with family. (ISAF photo)

KABUL, Afghanistan - ISAF Deputy Commander for Stability, Rear Admiral Matthieu Borsboom, took time last week to visit Bibi Mahrow hill in Kabul, a popular destination for families to relax and enjoy the scenery.  Whilst there, the Admiral spoke with Afghan locals to get their opinions on progress and security. 

Bibi Mahrow hill overlooks the expansive Kabul area with its bustling markets, new high rise buildings and rebuilt homes.  There is music in the air.  Young men are kite fighting while children cluster around them waiting for one to be cut loose for them to capture. 

Watching them was Khan, an 80-year-old grandfather who had come to enjoy the day with his grandchildren. 

"I was born in Kandahar," Khan told Borsboom.  "I have a big garden, land and property. But, I have lived in Kabul with my family for a long time.  I have two houses here, but sometimes I go to Kandahar to look after my land and harvests."

When asked how he felt about the presence of ISAF in Afghanistan, Khan replied "I can see building and reconstruction projects funded by the nations of ISAF that are providing for the welfare and facilities for Afghans.  All these things make us happy."

Khan went on to explain "of course, there are some problems with some of the reconstruction projects and with the troops in some areas. But we need to be patient - both Afghans and ISAF personnel.  We need to keep in mind that the intention of the foreign countries sending soldiers to Afghanistan is to help the Afghan people."

Proudly pointing out his newly painted school to Borsboom, 12-year-old Farhad tells the Admiral, "right now, this is an elementary school, but soon it will become a high school." 

The school is one of the many projects recently completed by the Ministry of Education.  It’s painted blue and easily visible from the hill. 

Farhad also points out what used to be a Taliban checkpoint.  He tells Borsboom, there is still an underground room there that Farhad referred to as a dungeon. 

"The Taliban threw the bodies of Afghans they murdered down there.  When the Taliban had power, we boys could never play on the hill - we were afraid of them."

On the hill, some of the men had laid out their prayer mats and were conducting their evening prayers.  A young man standing nearby and hearing their conversation said "fortunately, there is no fear of Taliban here anymore and this site is a symbol of their barbarism. Now our families come here to enjoy the outdoors and at prayer time, they are free to pray for their own wishes."

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/