A political outing with an Afghan tribal leader.
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“Why didn’t he just make the man give back the goats and then maybe pay something?” was the American’s obvious question.
“It is a very bad thing to take a man’s goats even if they have been eating on your land. The man should not have tried to make the penalty himself. He should have gone to the khan. So he also had broken the law. It was an insult to the khan.”
“So the khan was mad and took away his water rights?”
“Just so…and gave them to the first man.”
“Is that fair — is it right?”
“It is right, but not right. A khan has to be wise. He must see beyond what is there. The elders and the entire village want that. They do not want everything settled before a jirga, although I thought this was something that should be. I told him that. He did not like it. He said it made him look without strength. I said it didn’t. I said it made him look stronger. But he didn’t believe me,” Khairullah sighed.
“So what happened in the end?”
“It will go before a jirga and they will decide. I think they will give the man back his water, but I think he will pay much to the village. The value of the goats eating the grass will be taken away from the goats the man stole. He will return the goats left over. That’s what I told them should be done. I think they will do it, but the village khan did not like me telling him. I didn’t want to, but I had to. That is my job.”
Khairullah seemed very sad. Being a great khan is a very difficult occupation in South Waziristan.
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