Gandamak Lodge Kabul
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The Gandamack Lodge has been popular with journalists and aid workers since its opening shortly after the fall of the Taliban. At its initial location, it was the former home of one of Osama bin Laden’s wives.
Peter Jouvenal, a former television cameraman who is the owner and founder, said the only guests in residence when the closing order came were six journalists, including Americans, Britons and Germans.
“Because we were quite popular we were perceived as a potential target,” Jouvenal said. “If anything happened it would reflect very badly on the Afghan government.”
Mr. Faizi said the president’s national security council had decided to order the Gandamack closed because of intelligence it received about the guesthouse. “It was a nest for intelligence agencies meeting there,” he said.
Mr. Faizi said no other establishments were ordered closed, although authorities did offer security advice to many of them.(20140402)
Peter Jouvenal, deeply loves Afghanistan, first visiting to cover the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, and ultimately building a life there, marrying an Afghan woman and becoming deeply involved in trying to contribute to the country’s future. He is British-German by nationality but has thoroughly adopted Afghanistan is the country of his heart. Unlike many other Westerners there, he has skin in the game. Before the disastrous NATO withdrawal and the subsequent collapse of the country into darkness, he was working hard to try to find an equitable solution to Afghanistan’s future, which would take into account the rights of all groups within the country, especially women. A humanitarian, he was working tirelessly to try to help as many people as possible in the crisis that followed the fall of the country to the Taliban. It’s also fair to say that no-one has done as much as he has, through his photography and film-making skills, to bring the plight of the suffering Afghan people to the attention of the wider world.
He was captured several month ago, while in Kabul looking for a house that he intended to rent. He was hoping that he could co-operate with the Taliban government to help reboot the economy and bring the humanitarian catastrophe to the end and Afghanistan back into the realm of a functional society.
Peter Jouvenal was visiting a western-style house that he was considering to rent in Kabul when he was seized on Saturday morning, 11 December 2021 by a group of armed Taliban. The kidnappers were reportedly operating under the orders of Maulavi Abdul Wasiq, the Taliban’s director of intelligence. Peter has dual British and German nationality. Over the years, he had converted to Islam, met and married his Afghan wife, Hassina Syed, and now lives in England with their three daughters. During this time, he opened a guest house, Gandamack Lodge, and developed several business ventures. With the new Talib government keen on rebooting the country’s collapsed economy and attracting foreign investment, Peter had returned to Kabul to take care of family business and explore new investment possibilities, particularly mining. Geological surveys indicate that Afghanistan potentially has non-fuel mineral resources that, if developed, could be worth nearly a trillion dollars and are already attracting considerable interest from both China and India. Peter was completely open about what he was doing having fully informed the Talib authorities. He was also concerned about the country’s humanitarian situation given that millions of ordinary Afghans now face destitution, even starvation. Recent picture of Peter Jouvenal over lunch in Kabul. (Photo: Jouvenal archives) For Peter’s family, his incarceration may have been in error. He has always retained a strong interest in Afghanistan and has worked there for many years. Ever since he began covering Afghanistan in early 1980, he has probably done than any other cameraman-producer in focusing world attention on the plight of Afghans, whether it was documenting armed resistance against the Soviets or efforts to help civilians caught up in the NATO-Taliban conflict. Peter Jouvenal filming fleeing Afghan refugees fleeing along 5,000-meter-high mountain pass in northern Afghanistan during the early days of the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s. Jouvenal, often at the risk of his life, has done more than any other cameraman to highlight this country’s predicament over the past four decades.
He has been accused of being a spy but there is no real credibility to this, and no evidence supporting the claim has been produced. It is far more likely that the Taliban intend to use him as a bargaining chip with the West in the hope of securing aid and concessions.(20220622)