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

sexual harassment

‘Will you have fun with me?’: Immigration officer sexually harasses female passenger at Delhi airport

HINDUSTAN TIMES An immigration officer at the Delhi airport has been suspended after a female passenger complained that he sexually harassed her by asking obscene…
Continue Reading »

crime-Surrey

Two Surrey men in hospital with gunshot wounds after targeted shooting

VANCOUVER DESI SURREY — Two men are in hospital with gunshot wounds following what appears to be a targeted shooting in Surrey on Thursday night….
Continue Reading »

Indian man attacked by police officer in America

Ex-police officer indicted on federal civil rights charge over alleged beating of Indian grandfather

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A former Alabama police officer is charged with violating the civil rights of an Indian man during a violent…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

crime-Surrey

Two Surrey men in hospital with gunshot wounds after targeted shooting

VANCOUVER DESI SURREY — Two men are in hospital with gunshot wounds following what appears to be a targeted shooting in Surrey on Thursday night….
Continue Reading »

Desi truck driver crash death

Charges stayed against South Asian trucker in crash that killed Surrey Mountie

VANCOUVER DESI Charges have been stayed for a South Asian trucker who was involved in a 2012 collision that killed a Surrey RCMP officer. On…
Continue Reading »

CRIME-Nova Scotia

Changes to Nova Scotia law allow sex assault victims to sue retroactively

THE CANADIAN PRESS HALIFAX — Victims of sexual assault in Nova Scotia are now able to launch civil lawsuits against their abusers regardless of when…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

World Cup final

Underarm incident recalled as Australia-New Zealand rivalry rekindles in World Cup final

STEVE MCMORRAN THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MELBOURNE, Australia — Relations between New Zealand and Australia at a political level have regained their natural cordiality in the…
Continue Reading »

Cricket World Cup

Clarke’s Australians prepare to take on unpopular role in the World Cup final vs New Zealand

JOHN PYE THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MELBOURNE, Australia — Win or lose, Michael Clarke and his Australian teammates are probably going to be portrayed as the…
Continue Reading »

India-Australia-weird news

Youth cut his tongue as sacrifice at an Indian temple for nation’s cricket victory

IANS Chennai – In a senseless act, a cricket crazy youth in Tamil Nadu offered the tip of his tongue as a sacrifice at a…
Continue Reading »

Freedom-Section 66A-India

Teenager shoots himself after father bans Facebook chat

IANS Lucknow - A 14-year-old boy shot himself Thursday after his father reprimanded him for chatting too often on social networking site Facebook, police said. The…
Continue Reading »

messy custody battle-desi lingerie model

Jeremy Renner’s messy divorce from B.C. model gets messier as custody battle rages

VANCOUVER DESI A B.C. woman who was married to Hollywood actor Jeremy Renner is being accused of being a gold digger and blackmailer who has…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Salman Khan-Bollywood

Bollywood actor Salman Khan denies he was driving or drunk during 2002 accident

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood actor Salman Khan on Friday told a Mumbai court, conducting the trial of the 2002 hit-and-run case involving him, that he…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood movie

Amitabh Bachchan: Balki challenges me with never-done-before roles

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS Mumbai – R. Balakrishnan and Amitabh Bachchan’s much anticipated third outing “Shamitabh” turned out to be a box office disaster, but…
Continue Reading »

Narendra Modi

Sunny Leone: Mistreating women makes you a monster

IANS Mumbai – Actress Sunny Leone, who will do a cameo on TV show “Kaisi Yeh Yaariyan” on Friday, says mistreating and disrespecting women doesn’t…
Continue Reading »