Afghanistan is Tough…Just Try Making a Cellphone Call After 5 pm

Afghanistan is a tough place. Try using your cellphone after 5 pm. A story in today’s WSJ described the stranglehold that the former rulers of the country, the Taliban, have on the public’s cellphones. They’ve issued edicts to all of the cellphone companies in parts of the country to turn their towers off at night. Because that’s when other local people might rat out the Taliban and discuss their locations with the US Army.

The cellphone companies, Roshan and AWCC, tried to resist the former ruler’s edicts. But swiftly, they began bombing the $400,000 cellphone towers, blasting 40 of them out of service. That’s all it took to get complete compliance from the partly British owned Roshan, who agreed to at least 60 of their 800 Afghani towers. They come on again at 6:30 am. But that doesn’t help people like Sardar Wali, 19, whose father became sick and they had to transport him by donkey because there was no way to call a cab.

Wouldn’t it be frustrating to live in a place where these shadow-leaders, these ‘were once in power’ religious fanatics can control even the phone companies? Roshan and AWCC trucks can pass through Taliban roadblocks unimpeded, since everyone does need to have working cell service. But they don’t go as far as to eliminate phone service, knowing that this could cause even a bigger anti-Taliban backlash than all of the bombs mistakenly dropped on them by US forces.