'Even when there was a drought, we'd blame him'

Anand Gopal on Afghanistan's assassinated Jan Mohammed Khan.

By , Staff writer

Anand Gopal, one of the best reporters when it comes to untangling the throbbing mess called Afghan politics, particularly in the Pashtun south, has a must-read piece in Foreign Policy on the murder last Sunday of Jan Mohammed Khan, a warlord, former governor and powerful backer of Afghan President Hamid Karzai (whose most capable lieutenant in Kandahar, his brother Ahmad Wali Karzai, was murdered last week).

The former mujahideen commander against the Soviets was a controversial figure. His governorship of Uruzgan Province ended in 2006, when the Dutch troops in control of the area refused to work with him (he was persistently dodged by allegations of corruption and abuse of power). He was kicked back to Kabul with a symbolic title as a tribal affairs adviser to Karzai. "He was so hated, even when there was a drought we'd blame him," Gopal recalls an Uruzgani farmer telling him about Mr. Khan.

But whatever his flaws, he was someone that Karzai relied on, just as he did his half brother Ahmad Wali. Gopal wonders what comes next:

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