A Country On Edge

Bribes, promises, illusions of power. As the threat of military retaliation grows, Kabul's leaders work to keep their lonely regime in control

The borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan have become home not only to millions of refugees, but also to countless rumors about the fate of the Taliban government inside Afghanistan. Everyone here, from Pakistani spies to Afghan heroin smugglers, has a different take on the future of Kabul's despotic clerics. And though much of the gossip about what is happening in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan--mass defections of soldiers, for instance--is just gossip, there are signs of weakness, hints that the tight core of men around Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar are at the very least anxious about what may be coming their way....

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