Reporters who travel around Kabul in central Afghanistan are welcomed with smiles and handshakes by Northern alliance soldiers and not a Taleban is in sight. However, further south, the smiles turn to glares and the handshake is replaced by a Kalashnikov pointed to the face, menacingly. This is the heartland of the Taleban.
Dressed in their black turbans and armed with their Kalashnikovs, the Taleban are the only soldiers reported in the streets of Kandahar and the surrounding towns, with not a sign of the Northern Alliance troops. These are Pashtun lands, where the Uzbekhs, Tajikhs and Hazara of the Alliance are not welcome, neither are foreigners.
It appears the majority of the Taleban fighters simply walked home, complete with weapons. Those on the streets are Taleban who switched sides but there are reports of Taleban all over the country who returned home, armed and disgruntled, not satisfied with the current state of affairs and far from convinced that they were wrong.
Northern Alliance commanders have declared to reporters that they dare not send their troops into the Pashtun areas because they are afraid that they will discover that the Taleban are far from a beaten force.
They simply walked home. As for the foreign Al-Qaeda fighters, some hundreds have been captured but the thousands expected to be found in Kunduz and Kandahar simply vanished.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru