“Religious” pilgrims kick the Afghan tourism minister to death as on-lookers stand around laughing, saying they sent him to Paradise.

Pilgrims who had been standing around in the cold for three days, waiting for Afghan Airlines single passenger aircraft to have survived the American bombing raids to take them to Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage, were infuriated that the Tourism Minister had decided to freight the aircraft to take his family to India for a holiday.

Four men boarded the aircraft at Kabul airport and pulled Abdul Rahmane outside, where he was set upon by a howling mob, who kicked him to death.

Meanwhile, the former Mujaheddin commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, that eminence grise permanently on the horizon in Afghanistan, has announced that he is to return and call up his men. He is one of Hamid Karzai’s most vociferous critics, calling him “that American clown”.

Finally, the US troops stationed near Kandahar have come under attack for two nights in succession by armed men believed to be Taleban or Al-Qaeda fighters.

Where else in the world would a minister be kicked to death by religious pilgrims? This is the country in which a hand grenade was thrown at a lion because it killed an idiot who climbed into its cage to prove how brave he was. This is the country in which kite flying was prohibited. The warlords still very much a danger, the Taleban far from defeated, Hamid Karzai is a pseudo-Head of State, a ghost locked up in his stronghold of Kabul, from which he dare not venture.

The story of Afghanistan is still very much at Chapter One.