Photos of the Hazara of Central Afghanistan

Joe Black was stationed in Pakistan in 1974, where he worked for a petroleum company. During this time the American got his first glimpse of life in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan.

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan Joe was left deeply disturbed, feeling that the majority of the American media was ignoring the plight of the Afghan people.
Hazara Freedom Fighters
Hazara Freedom Fighters - Can you imagine them as remnants of the Army of Genghis Khan?

Joe left his home in Kodiak, Alaska and came to Peshawar in the summer of 1987.

He was an amateur film maker, determined to shoot film and photos of the Afghan conflict.

He left Peshawar on July 3rd, 1987, accompanied by armed mujahadeen from the Shora-e-Itafaq-Islami.

This was an Iranian-backed group composed of Hazara tribesmen from Central Afghanistan.

Joe spent nine weeks in war-torn Afghanistan living among the Hazara people.

During his time there the Alaskan filmed different aspects of the Hazara's lives, including several armed battles between the Soviets and the Hazara tribesmen.
Hazara Freedom Fighters
A Typical Hazara Boy

Upon his return to Peshawar, Joe was interviewed by famed Afghan reporter, famed Afghan war correspondent Ekram Shinwari.

The photos you see today were left with me, as the Journalism Director of the Afghan Media Resource Center.

They show a young Hazara boy making tea, a group of Hazara mujahadeen prior to going off to battle, and Joe Black being interviewed by Ekram Shinwari.

To the best of my knowledge, Joe Black of Alaska was the only "ferenghi" (foreigner) ever to live among and report on the condition of the Hazara people during the Afghan-Soviet conflict. These photos therefore represent a unique glimpse of that rapidly-fading conflict.

More than fourteen years have passed since I last saw Joe Black.

I have no idea if he is still alive, nor do I make any attempt to insinuate that these photos, taken by Joe in 1987, reflect his feelings about the current situation in Afghanistan today.

Yet regardless of the passing of time, I am sure of one thing.
Joe Black (right) with Ekram Shinwari
Joe Black (right) with Ekram Shinwari, Afghan reporter (left)

Joe Black was a brave and thougtful man then, and I am sure that he remains so today.

Best wishes, CuChullaine O'Reilly

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