Yesterday we tried to interview a successful Afghan businesswoman who has just been through some difficulties with her partner. When we turned up at the factory gate in the car, the guards (obviously armed, like most guards here) locked the gate in front of us.
We slowly discovered they were employed by her ex business partner, and they never allowed guests in (well, not us!), and weren’t letting the businesswoman out either! The police were called who turned up like the afghan version of ‘Chips’ (the old US drama) but on a pretty clapped out motorbike. Instead of pistols, one of them carried what I can only imagine was an AK-47. No hassle at all though, it just turned into one of those meetings you have to expect in this parts of the world. We left with no interview, (apart from half of one through the mesh gate) and no photographs of this entrepeneur looking to rebuild her business. We did have an ‘entertaining’ chat with the head of the security guards….who then said he was ‘just a production manager’ when quizzed harder.
‘No-one can get by this gate without a pass’
‘How do we get a pass?’
We then got told we had to go to head office but he only had an address, not a number. We were then told a number of the head of the company. We were then told that actually he couldn’t give us permission, we had to phone their lawyer. When asked for the lawyers number we got the original phone number given again. Bizarre.