On a recent flight to Kandahar, I remembered flying with coffins. In the '80s, when Soviet-backed troops still battled mujahideen forces, corpses were often carried on military aircraft and Ariana flights. A sense of loss was ever present. This flight to Kandahar was different—a trip to a Karzai family wedding in the former Taliban heartland. Afghans marvelled at how much had changed in a year. (On November 13 last year, the Taliban collapsed and Kabul fell.)
But on the return journey, the mood was sombre. One of Hamid Karzai's bodyguards, well liked by many on his team, died when someone tried to assassinate the President. Afghanistan is like that these days: moments when the enormity of change sinks in; moments of dread that it could so easily unravel.
It's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security in Kabul. A decades-old curfew has just been lifted. There's a fresh coat of paint on shops across the city and a new energy on streets teeming with bicycles, gleaming white aid jeeps and swish black limousines.
Western aid officials are still effusing...