The commander, an ally of the United States in the war against the Taliban, is not an anomaly.
Hundreds of such outposts of the Afghan Local Police (ALP), a front-line force armed and funded with U. taxpayer dollars, and other pro-government militias are believed to have enslaved young boys for dancing and sexual companionship, many of them kidnapped. I reported last year how the Taliban are exploiting entrenched bacha bazi to infiltrate Afghan security ranks, effectively using child sex slaves — many of them brutally abused and hungry for revenge — as Trojan Horses to mount deadly insider attacks.
The commander flaunted him the way a ringmaster exhibits an exotic animal.
“See my beautiful bacha (boy slave),” he said, blithe and casual, a gun dangling at his side.
But multiple officials in southern Afghanistan told me that any action against guilty commanders — a bulwark against insurgents — would anger them and cause them to abandon their posts with their loyalists, paving the way for the Taliban.
I stumbled through a farm of chest-high opium poppy stocks to reach his mud-and-wattle outpost on the outskirts of Tarin Kot, the capital of southern Uruzgan province that is teetering in the face of a Taliban upsurge.Security is a legitimate concern, but turning a blind eye to crimes such as bacha bazi amounts to a serious contravention of America’s Leahy amendment, which bans U. assistance or training to foreign military units that fail to honor basic human rights.The United States needs to deploy the leverages at its disposal in a country heavily dependent on it for aid to end this overriding culture of impunity.To completely understand this perverse logic, imagine an American sheriff with pedophilic proclivities openly snatching children — and instead of rescuing the victims and bringing the sheriff to justice, the administration pandered to his criminal behavior and justified letting him keep his job.This heartless apathy explains why the commander I met was so shockingly blasé about keeping a sex slave.