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Wednesday, 19 December, 2001, 21:56 GMT
Music returns to Kandahar
A music store in Kandahar
Under the Taleban playing music was banned
Susannah Price

The Taleban surrendered Kandahar just two weeks ago - and already it is as if they were never there.

It is very hard to spot a former Taleban by the way they look or dress and it is likely many are still in the city blending into the crowd.

Girls in Kandahar celebrate the end of Ramadan
It is almost as if the Taleban were never there
The governor of the city, Gul Agha, has said that anyone who hands over their weapons will be allowed to go back to their homes or villages - he says more than 1,000 weapons have been handed in.

The problem of tracking down the leadership remains. There are still no confirmed sightings of the Taleban spiritual leader Mullah Omar but he is thought to be in the region.

The governor said they captured many Taleban and freed them - but they would hand over any leaders wanted by the international community.

Taleban reminders

One uncharacteristically colourful reminder of the Taleban rule is the Eid mosque commissioned by Mullah Omar. Residents say it is the largest in Afghanistan.

The blue dome has been completed, although there are a few bullet holes in it, but inside it is a riot of colour with paintings of a Kabul hotel, a fort, mosques and shrines.

Elderly woman peeking through a door in Kandahar
The people are slowly starting to open up

The minarets and a madrassah or religious school remain unfinished, but already the mosque has been used for prayers on the Islamic festival of Eid a few days ago.

Many other Taleban offices did not survive the devastating American bombing. The office of the religious police has been reduced to rubble.

However many areas of the city were already destroyed in the fighting of previous decades.

Time to celebrate

Residents still find it hard to believe the Taleban have gone, but they have been taking advantage of their new found freedom.

At one tea party organised at a local businessman's home, the guests play music, take photographs of each other and play cards - all crimes under Taleban law.

Kandahar mosque
Mullah Omar's mosque still stands

Many men have already shaved off their beards. These include Abdul Warris, a trader who lives in the centre of town. He says everyone is pleased about the new government and the freedom they can now enjoy.

Music is suddenly flooding the streets of Kandahar. Shops selling music and video cassettes have appeared on every corner. People used to listen to music in their basements or behind closed doors - fearing arrest.

Mohammed Nasim, a shopkeeper, dashed to Pakistan to stock up just a few days after the Taleban surrendered. He now sells 100 cassettes a day.

Concert

And in the centre of town there was the first live concert for seven years. Four Afghan singers, who had been living in exile in Pakistan, took to the stage in front of a delighted audience.

Broken windows at Kandahar airport
However the scars of war remain

They sang popular love songs in the local Pashto language in front of an ecstatic crowd.

One of the singers, Saleh Mohammed is delighted to be performing in front of a home audience again. He says that music, like food, is essential for human beings.

Those watching him certainly agreed and the concert went on until late into the night.

See also:

12 Dec 01 | South Asia
Normal life returning to Kandahar
09 Dec 01 | South Asia
Kandahar rivals broker deal
07 Dec 01 | South Asia
Taleban surrender last stronghold
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