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Displaced Persons, Panjshir Valley Arrival into the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan from Tajikistan with Northern Alliance fighters ©Jason Florio

An Afghan Diary, 2000 & 2001. Images ©Jason Florio

An Afghan Diary: For those of who have had the privilege to have spent time in Afghanistan, I am sure all hearts go out to the extraordinary people who are on the verge of facing another surge of uncertainty as the US troops prepare to leave on Sept 11 2021. Jason Florio

An Afghan Diary – 2000 & 2001

My journey to the Taliban-controlled region of Afghanistan in August 2000 was in fact not planned. I was on my way to Kashmir to follow the ‘jihad trail’ when I got a call to join my colleague and writer Pepe Escobar, who was working on jihad stories on the Pakistan-Afghan border – he said: “This is (Afghanistan) where it’s really happening…”.

An Afghan Diary, 2000 & 2001. Children playing on destroyed Russian tank, Panjshir Valley, AfghanistanBlack and white Images ©Jason Florio
An Afghan Diary, 2000 & 2001: Children playing on destroyed Russian tank, Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan. Image ©Jason Florio

Crossing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border by foot at the Khyber pass we spent two weeks driving through the heart of Taliban-Afghanistan to try and get a clear understanding of who the Taliban were and how they held such sway over the populace. We felt we had dropped through a tear in the space-time fabric to the surreal land of corrupted ancient ideologies spouted from the mouths kohl-eyed men driving brand-new Toyota 4×4’s, where photography was outlawed – and because of which, we were arrested on two occasions.

To follow the full story on Afghanistan we knew we also need it to head to the north-east to meet the Taliban opposition, the Northern Alliance, who controlled that portion of the country. This we could not do until a year later in August 2001.

Gender Equality Afghanistan - Secret Home School for Girls - image © Jason Florio
An Afghan Diary, 2000 & 2001: Secret Home School for Girls, Afghanistan. Image ©Jason Florio

Our first attempt to cross the border from Pakistan to the Northern Alliance area disguised as women wearing full covering burqas failed. We then spent the next three weeks organizing a ride into the country via Tajikistan on a Russian helicopter operated by the Northern Alliance.


August 2001 I went to Afghanistan to photograph a war, all was quiet. I returned to my home in Greenwich Village, New York City on September 5th. Six days later the war came to me. JF

Being in the north-east was like being in Shangri-La compared to our time with the Taliban. We worked fairly freely and were eventually granted an interview with the legendary commander, Ahmed Shah Massoud. Despite our two successful Afghan journeys, we felt that the world at the end of August 2001 the media cared little about what was happening in this harsh land.

An Afghan Diary, 2000 & 2001.Women in burqa's, wearing fancy Chinese plastic shoes, Faizabad, Afghanistan Black and white Images ©Jason Florio
An Afghan Diary, 2000 & 2001. Women in burqa’s, wearing fancy Chinese plastic shoes, Faizabad. Images ©Jason Florio




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