Commander Mamabaidullah switches off the ignition and alights from his pickup truck onto the desert plain surrounding Spin Boldak, a chaotic Afghan town that borders Pakistan. Followed by four of his Kalashnikov-toting men, he walks briskly toward a graveyard where scores of bodies lie buried beneath mounds of dirt and clay. Mamabaidullah, who is responsible for guarding this stretch of frontier between Afghanistan and Pakistan, stops at the row closest to the border. With evident pride, he explains that they contain the corpses of Taliban militiamen killed by Afghan soldiers during a battle last month. These Taliban, Mamabaidullah says, had been...

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