Poetry infiltrates all levels of Afghani society. When the mullahs want to make a statement but cannot back it by reason, they back it with a poem and end the discussion. In the recent years, lords and warlords have competed to have the best poets onside, much like the courts of the past kings. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of one of the terrorist groups – one of the most wanted in America – is a professional poet. Ahmad Shah Massoud, the legendary commander and rival to Hekmatyar was also a poet. Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the leader of the opposition and Gilani, head of a Sufi popular group also share the passion for poetry. This common thread can at times bring all the leaders and commanders together under one roof.
Reza Mohammedi, on the rich history of poetry in modern Afghanistan