This New York Times story on how the US is developing reliable alternatives to routes through the Khyber Pass in Pakistan; this is a short lesson not only on the the complications Afghanistan poses, but on the political geography of the region. Also note that the Washington Post had a story on this issue about four months ago. In the meantime, the political temperature in Pakistan was lowered a bit. But, The Taliban rejected reports on Monday its leader Mullah Omar was willing to hold peace talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan, saying it would continue attacks until all foreign forces withdrew from the country.
"If you wait for 3,000 years, our position is that the Taliban will not enter into any kind of talks in the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan," Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi told the Pakistan-based AIP news agency on Monday. This
Con Coughlin article in The Telegraph on the Khyber Pass is pretty good. I like his description of a Buzhkashi (which means, I am told, "goat grabbing" or "goat ball") "in which two teams of expert horsemen competed to drag the corpse of a decapitated goat from one end of the field to the other. If you’ve ever wondered what a full-blooded cavalry charge looks like at close quarters, Buzhkashi is the game for you, as man and beast become entangled in a melee of sweat, blood and dust, and give no quarter as they wrestle for the rapidly disintegrating carcass." I saw a Buzhkashi game--and was almost killed--in Peshawar back in the late ’80’s. A spectacle.