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10 Nov, 2021 20:42

Could Afghanistan be the next trendy travel destination like Vietnam? No, no it couldn’t

Could Afghanistan be the next trendy travel destination like Vietnam? No, no it couldn’t

A British general seems to think that Taliban-ruled Afghanistan could soon be on your bucket list just like that other state that was once ‘aggressively remodeled’ by the American military, Vietnam… Nah. I don’t think so.

It’s probably not the first place you’d think of going to for your stag-do.

Alcohol is a bit thin on the ground in sunny Kabul and there aren’t many discos because, though God must surely have created harmony if he created the universe, ‘he’ has a bit of a problem with the sound of music. 

How about a hen party for the girls? Nah. It can’t be very comfortable dancing around your handbag in a burqa, especially only to the sound of AK47s being shot in the air.

You don’t hear much music in Afghanistan these days, you see, since the return of the Taliban, and sales of hijabs and burqas have gone through the local clothing shack’s corrugated metal roof.

But hey, it’d be unusual. A story to share back home rather than the usual blather about the topless beaches of Barcelona or a drunken snog in a Blackpool bar. 

Maybe it’s the perfect place actually if, like me, you’re a bit of a cynic about the whole concept of marriage. It’s kind of a cage, especially for women, so maybe Afghanistan is the perfect place to try out those new chains.

There’s LOADS to see in Afghanistan, too. How about the Kabul football stadium, where black-turbaned Taliban would push convicts to their knees before blowing their brains into the open goal. Those goalposts from which they hung the severed arms and legs of thieves have even been given a fresh coat of white paint.

If mosques are your thing, there’s plenty of stunning structures for you to go and see, including one in Kandahar that houses a cloak said to have been worn by the Prophet Mohammed, (peace be upon him). Kandahar, of course, is the spiritual homeland of the Taliban. And their first leader, Mullah Omar, held up the cloak to a crowd when he was first declared ruler of all Muslims everywhere.

Don’t try and switch on a TV down there, though, just like in the good old Mullah Omar days, watching telly can now get you arrested. And be careful if you fancy flying a kite, they ‘Tali-banned’ that last time, too.

You’d be a bit late for the wonderful pair of huge Buddha statues that had stood in Bamiyan for around 1,500 years though, the Taliban declared a Jihad against them and blew them to pieces in 2001 for being un-Islamic.

Or how about the Tora Bora caves up in the mountains, where Osama bin Laden liked to hang out with his Al Qaeda crew and plan their 9-11 attacks

It’s not just summer fun. There’s also the untapped potential of the mountainous Hindu Kush, not all that far from Osama’s lair. Can’t you just picture ruddy skiers in their garish fluorescent pink or lime-green jumpsuits? And also the far better dressed and far cooler snowboard crowd. A ski lift opened there a couple of years ago, the first in 40 years.

There are, of course, extreme folk who do what normally only journalists do, and travel into warzones and hell holes when most sensible people with a means of escape head in the opposite direction. Take the ‘idiot’ tourist Miles Routledge who took a holiday to Afghanistan ‘because it was dangerous’ then found himself trapped when the country fell. The 21-year-old British student had to be airlifted to safety.

Oops! Oh well, I guess he got a free ride home and he could write a great essay about what he did on his summer holidays when he got back to college.

Yet the outgoing head of the British military reckons, within reason, that Afghanistan could – for real – become a holiday hotspot in the future.

Err, really?

“Taliban 2.0 is different,” said General Sir Nick Carter. “There are a lot of people in Taliban 2.0 who would like to govern in a more modern way.” And, he added, if moderates gain control “then there is no reason to suppose that Afghanistan over the next five years might not turn into a country that is more inclusive than it might have otherwise”.

Never mind that, while he was speaking to MPs, the Taliban were parading hanged men on trucks in Lashkar Gah and there have been reports of the murder of female human rights workers.

Women can no longer work in this Islamic paradise and girls are not educated beyond the age of 12. Opponents to the regime have been arrested and killed while Islamic State extremists have carried out mass killings.

General Carter, weirdly, then appeared to suggest that Afghanistan could one day become a tourist destination like Vietnam. Carter referred to the Vietnam War as a similar place ‘where another bunch of country boys won.’

Will they include all that death and destruction and restrictions in the holiday brochures?

The General, according to The Independent, had been having a bit of a ding-dong exchange with a committee member, so he may have just been a little flustered. He asked Mark Francois: “Would you go to holiday in Vietnam?” The Conservative MP, who has been caught up in the raging sleaze row in the UK, replied that he’d rather go to Las Vegas.

Now, that’s something of a stretch – Vietnam and Afghanistan. None of those religion-led restrictions on people have been applied to the locals in Vietnam. I’ve been, it’s a lovely place to visit. There’s booze and music and I’m pretty sure nobody would bother you if you wanted to fly a kite. 

I confess, I have been to neither Kabul nor Las Vegas. Though I suspect I’d prefer Kabul to all those slot machines, Elvis impersonators and dodgy Tory MPs on their jollies from rainy Britain. 

But hey, maybe there’s a new market for those guys in this fluffy new Afghanistan? I very much doubt Ryanair or Easyjet or Vueling or Wizz Air will be adding Kabul or Kandahar to their destination lists anytime soon.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.