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

Crime-Vancouver-BC

Surrey Six murder trial: ‘But where is Christopher?’ With verdict expected Thursday, here’s what we know

KEITH FRASER VANCOUVER DESI Nearly a year to the day the trial began, a judge is expected to hand down her verdict Thursday in the…
Continue Reading »

1INDIA_MODI_218232180

Once shunned by U.S., India’s Modi rides wave of enthusiasm to White House for visit with Obama

JOSH LEDERMAN and DARLENE SUPERVILLE  THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — Once shunned by the United States, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is riding a wave…
Continue Reading »

1PNG_0929N_CITY_INQUEST_218232808

Mexican woman sneaked into Canada through bushes, border officer tells coroner’s inquest

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI A Mexican woman who committed suicide in custody awaiting deportation had sneaked into Canada through the bushes in Surrey, a coroner’s…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Crime-Vancouver-BC

Surrey Six murder trial: ‘But where is Christopher?’ With verdict expected Thursday, here’s what we know

KEITH FRASER VANCOUVER DESI Nearly a year to the day the trial began, a judge is expected to hand down her verdict Thursday in the…
Continue Reading »

White House: ‘We support the aspirations’ of Hong Kong democracy protesters

By Alexander Panetta THE CANADIAN PRESS WASHINGTON — Foreign governments expressed support Monday for historic protests in Hong Kong despite a pointed warning from the…
Continue Reading »

1PNG_0929N_CITY_INQUEST_218232808

Mexican woman sneaked into Canada through bushes, border officer tells coroner’s inquest

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI A Mexican woman who committed suicide in custody awaiting deportation had sneaked into Canada through the bushes in Surrey, a coroner’s…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

body image-beauty-weight-control

Self-compassion leads to positive body image in women

IANS Toronto – Women who accept and tolerate their bodily imperfections appear to have a more positive body image despite their high body mass index…
Continue Reading »

British comedian John Oliver takes aim at Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's U.S. visit on his HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. YouTube/Screengrab.

British comedian John Oliver again covers Indian politics in HBO show, takes aim at Modi’s U.S. visit (w/ video)

VANCOUVER DESI British comedian John Oliver has covered Indian politics yet again on his new HBO show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In this…
Continue Reading »

shah-rukh-khan-bn6a4756

Review: Was Shah Rukh Khan’s SLAM! The Tour worth the 3 hour delay in Vancouver?

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI After a nearly three-hour delay, Bollywood finally took over Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum Saturday night with a lavish evening of song, dance,…
Continue Reading »

Barbie

Religious groups angry over Barbie as Hindu goddess Kali, Virgin Mary (w/gallery)

VANCOUVER DESI Two artists from Argentina have given the legendary Barbie and Ken dolls forms of various religious figurines from Jesus and Mary to Hindu…
Continue Reading »

treatment

Villagers bury woman to cure her after getting ‘shocked’

CEN AGENCY Villagers in India sprung into action after one of their neighbours was suffered a high voltage electric shock – by burying her up…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Sushmita Sen (L) and Hrithik Roshan (R) will be featured int he upcoming Mytra Fashion Weekend in Mumbai. Getty Images.

Sushmita Sen, Hrithik Roshan to glam up Mumbai’s Myntra Fashion Weekend

IANS Mumbai  – Former beauty queen and actress Sushmita Sen is set to scorch the ramp as showstopper on the opening day of fashion, beauty…
Continue Reading »

Tommy Hilfiger (L) says he is a fan of Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor (R). Getty Images.

Tommy Hilfiger fond of Bollywood films, favours Sonam Kapoor

IANS New Delhi  – American designer Tommy Hilfiger loves to watch Bollywood movies and appreciates the growing fashion quotient in Hindi movies and his favourite…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan’s #BangBangDare to Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar and Sonam Kapoor

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan has taken a unique approach to promote his upcoming film Bang Bang — a #BangBangDare to his friends in…
Continue Reading »