Miles Kington: The difference between a parka and a burqa

'The Northern Alliance is actually known as The Avenging Army of Pillage, Rape and Revenge'
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The Independent Online

How much do you know about what really is going on in Afghanistan?

When someone says, "The bombing has really worked!", how well equipped are you to a) agree constructively b) disagree in a well-informed manner c) say, "Sorry – what bombing is that?"

Well, today we have a quiz designed to make you fully aware of just how ignorant or up-to-date you are on Afghanistan. No more hiding behind newspaper opinions!

Here we go then. For each question, just tick the answer you think is correct.


1. The absence of a broad-based government in Afghanistan is because there is no word for "broad-based" in the Afghan language.

a) True.

b) False.

c) Actually, there is no such thing as the Afghan language.

2. The difficulties of communication in Afghanistan are increased because the inhabitants speak over 20 different tongues, including Uzbek, Tajik, Uzu, pidgin Russian, Imperial English, Pashmina, Pashtun, Walloon, Sanskrit and a strange dialect related to Finnish.

a) Yes.

b) No.

c) Sorry?

3. What is the difference between a "parka" and a "burqa"?

a) A lot.

b) Not a lot.

c) Whereas the parka has been commercialised in the West, and is a familiar sight in shops as low down the scale as Birdspotting Supplies of Bradford, the burqa has only just been discovered by the West, and the first supplies are being mass produced in Chinese factories as we speak, ready to hit the shops in time for Christmas, and a "Dress Up As A Lady Like John Simpson!" campaign.

4. Before the emergence of the "burqa", the only familiar items of attire from Afghanistan were Afghan socks, thick socks with thin leather soles, which were ideal if you couldn't afford shoes or just wanted to keep warm at night in bed and slept alone. But now they seem to have vanished from the shops. Why?

a) They smelt of stale yak's milk.

b) They were impossible to wash without the leather shrinking.

c) They were outlawed by the Taliban, as they did not cover a woman's calves.

d) They have all been looted by the Northern Alliance.

e) They served as stopgap Christmas presents so often that everyone in Britain now has five pairs each.

5. Before emerging as the chief opposition to the Taliban, the Northern Alliance used to be...

a) a building society in Kabul.

b) a building society in Bradford.

c) a dance craze in Wigan.

6. Why is the Western side called a coalition but the Afghan side called an alliance?

a) There is no word in Afghan for coalition.

b) There is already a building society in Kabul called the Northern Coalition.

c) In Afghan, the Northern Alliance is actually known as The Avenging Army of Pillage, Rape and Revenge, but there is no word in English for this.

7. What was Tony Blair's first reaction when he heard that the Taliban were on the run?

a) "Take that, Gordon!"

b) "I am glad to announce that the bombing has been 100 per cent successful, that foot and mouth is now eliminated from Afghanistan and that the countryside is open for business again".

8. In the few days since the Taliban left Kabul, the capital's infrastructure has been strengthened by the building of...

a) A Coca-Cola factory.

b) Two new McDonald's

c) Five new Starbucks

d) A statue of Mr Blair

9. What was the original code name of the operation against the Taliban?

a) Operation Total Justice

b) Operation Kick Ass

c) Operation Collateral

d) Operation This is NOT a War against Islam, so Get That Into Your Thick Muslim Skulls!

10. Which Afghanistan subject has produced the most feeble jokes?

a) Carpet-bombing

b) Barbers and beards

c) Puns on Osama Bin Lining

d) Poor old President Bush

If you got them all right, well done. If you got half right, well done. If you got none right, well done – you are President of America!