Photos: In country long awash with weapons of war, paintball takes hold in Afghanistan with splat

Published: August 29, 2014


Picture 1 of 9

In this Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo, a man holds up his gas-powered gun while playing paintball in Kabul, Afghanistan. AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

REBECCA SANTANA
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KABUL, Afghanistan — The hidden gunman, dressed in long green coveralls and a SWAT-team-style vest and helmet, looks ominous as he takes aim and fires off a short burst.

But this isn’t a Taliban attack in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital — it’s just a friendly game of paintball.

The arrival of recreational paintball to Afghanistan may seem peculiar to outsiders, especially in a country that’s known decades of war, faces constant bombings and attacks by Taliban insurgents and is preparing its own security forces for the withdrawal of most foreign troops by the end of the year.

However, it shows both the rise of a nascent upper and middle class looking for a diversion with the time to spare, as well as the way American culture has seeped into the country since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to topple the Taliban.

“These people deserve to have more fun,” said Abbas Rizaiy, the owner of the “Eagle” paintball club in central Kabul.

Rizaiy brought the game to Afghanistan just a few weeks ago. He’s a longtime fan of the first-person shooter video game “Call of Duty” and stepped up to the next level by playing paintball in neighbouring Iran where he was born.

He moved to Afghanistan 10 years ago and eventually decided to open the club this year in Kabul, a city more associated with real bullets than ones that splatter paint.

For those who have never suffered a welt from the game, paintball involves participants geared up in helmets, goggles and protective clothing firing at each other using gas-powered guns that shoot paint pellets. The games can be complicated affairs that last for hours or as simple as a capture-the-flag contest that lasts only a few minutes.

Naqibullah Jafari, a marketing officer in Kabul who came with his friends one day, acknowledged that they didn’t have much of a strategy when he took to the field — other than to shoot each other.

“It is my first time that I came here, and I don’t have any special tactics in this game,” he said, with his goggles pushed up to his forehead and his weapon at his side.

Rizaiy said he hasn’t had many issues with the neighbours, though he turned down the speed at which the weapons fire to reduce the noise. Instead, he said the biggest challenge was to get the paintball guns as the ones he imported from India got stuck for six months in Afghanistan’s bureaucracy-laden customs department.

Paintball is one a small number of leisure activities that have sprung up in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban. A bowling alley called “The Strikers” opened up a few years ago and a number of pools around the city provide a place for residents to splash around in the summer months. There’s also a 9-hole golf course a short drive outside of Kabul.

But most of these activities are geared toward the city’s small, upper- and middle-class elite who can afford the admission. And customers are overwhelming male because of Afghanistan’s conservative society, which deems it generally not acceptable for women to go to activities involving men who aren’t relatives.

Rizaiy said he’d like women customers, but said women don’t want to be stared at while wearing all the warrior gear.

This year is one of many transitions for Afghanistan, with a presidential election that is still undecided and foreign troops scheduled to leave the country. Rizaiy said he thinks at least some U.S. troops likely will stay, providing stability for Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, his customers seem to appreciate the irony of firing toy guns in a country flooded with the real thing.

“We can use guns for positive things and also for negative things,” customer Ali Noori said. “These guns are for entertainment.”

——

twitter.com/ruskygal

12:42ET 29-08-14

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

Screen shot of Shah Rukh Khan's first video tweet. Submitted.

Shah Rukh Khan sends out India’s first tweet using Twitter’s new mobile video camera

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was the first-ever Indian to use Twitter’s freshly launched mobile video camera. Twitter announced the new feature on…
Continue Reading »

Amanda Todd is shown in an undated handout photo. The man accused in the cyberbullying case of British Columbia teen Amanda Todd has denied the allegations against him in a letter released by his lawyer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Facebook, HO

‘First off, I’m innocent’: Dutch man accused in Amanda Todd extortion case writes open letter saying he’s the wrong guy

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI The Dutch man suspected of online extortion in the Amanda Todd case has released a letter from jail, to tell the…
Continue Reading »

Indian spectators watch as a float carrying a sign that reads "Congratulations! It's a Baby Girl" passes by during the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2015. The float represented India's Ministry of Women and Child Development.  An estimated 26 million babies are born anually in India, a country considered to be one of the worst places to be born a girl because of a societal 'gender gap' that favours boys and preferences for male children.  ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

India’s Supreme Court bans online advertisements for pre-birth sex tests

VANCOUVER DESI India’s Supreme Court has ordered Internet giants Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to block all advertisements for pre-birth tests that determine a child’s gender,…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Amanda Todd is shown in an undated handout photo. The man accused in the cyberbullying case of British Columbia teen Amanda Todd has denied the allegations against him in a letter released by his lawyer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Facebook, HO

‘First off, I’m innocent’: Dutch man accused in Amanda Todd extortion case writes open letter saying he’s the wrong guy

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI The Dutch man suspected of online extortion in the Amanda Todd case has released a letter from jail, to tell the…
Continue Reading »

sethi

American Punjabi rapper feels at home in Vancouver

Collaborative hip hop and artistic group Char Bagh set to play the PuSh Festival on Saturday   LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI California-based MC and artist…
Continue Reading »

Al Paskall, husband of slain hockey mom Julie Paskall, was in Surrey Provincial court today during day one of her accused killer's preliminary hearing. Gord Goble/Surrey Now.

‘I wasn’t there when I should’ve been,’ husband of slain Surrey hockey mom says in court

AMY REID SURREY NOW “It should have been me.” More than a year after his high school sweetheart Julie Paskall lost her life following an…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver-BC

Raise your hand, send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

DEVGAN

Bollywood film that was to shoot in Alberta ‘indefinitely postponed’

ERIC VOLMERS CALGARY HERALD Don’t brush up your Bollywood dance moves yet, Alberta. Shivay, a Hindi film that was set to start filming in the Rocky Mountains…
Continue Reading »

File photo: The new Surrey City Hall in Surrey, B.C., December 29, 2014. Arlen Redekop/PNG

Surrey named one of top seven most intelligent communities in the world

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — The City of Surrey has been named one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of 2015 by New York-based think…
Continue Reading »

FILE PHOTO: A leopard walks with a tranquiliser dart in the residential area of Jyotikuchi in Guwahati, the capital city of the northeastern state of Assam on March 15, 2009. Three people were mauled by the leopard after the cat strayed into the city before it was tranquilised by forestry department officials. BIJU BORO/AFP/Getty Images

Leopard in India beaten to death by villagers after vicious attack

IANS Kolkata  – A young male leopard was beaten to death by a mob of angry villagers on Monday after it strayed into a West…
Continue Reading »

prv0122Nfashion01

Passion for fashion turned into day job for Surrey clothing designer

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Surrey’s Davi Bains-Gill never thought her love for fashion and design could be her livelihood. She pursued a career in social…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood movie

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan rules out Hollywood

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan doesn’t foresee a transition to Hollywood, according to SkyNews. Although Bachchan recently appeared alongside Hollywood’s Leonardo DiCaprio in The…
Continue Reading »

Screen shot of Shah Rukh Khan's first video tweet. Submitted.

Shah Rukh Khan sends out India’s first tweet using Twitter’s new mobile video camera

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was the first-ever Indian to use Twitter’s freshly launched mobile video camera. Twitter announced the new feature on…
Continue Reading »

Sunny Leone posts a photo of her family vacation to her Instagram account. Submitted photo/Instagram.

Sunny Leone signed on to mentor participants of new social media reality show

HINDUSTAN TIMES Listed as India’s most-searched celebrity last year, the Internet has certainly played a crucial role in Indo Canadian porn star turned Bollywood actress…
Continue Reading »