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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaIn Afghanistan, Follow the White High-Tops and You’ll Find the Taliban

In Afghanistan, Follow the White High-Tops and You’ll Find the Taliban

Authors: Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Fahim Abed 

Affiliation: Thomas Gibbons-Neff is a New York Times correspondent in the Kabul bureau and a former US Marine infantryman  

Organization/Publisher: New York Times 

Date/Place: January 2021/ USA  

Type of Literature: Photojournalism article   

Word Count: 1480


Keywords: Taliban, Military Dress-Code, Afghanistan


This article is a descriptive photo-based study of a symbolic icon of fear in Afghanistan called “Cheetah-sneakers” that have been produced in Pakistan since the 1980’s. The popular shoes have been worn by insurgents for decades since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Although the shoes have been used by mostly men fighting in the rocky mountains, they have a connotation towards Taliban insurgent identity. Although not acknowledged, the shoes could be interpreted as a military dress-code of Taliban groups. Residents across the country carry dark memories of these sneakers, which have become synonymous with violence. Interviews indicate that the ordinary people affiliate these sneakers to the Taliban. Ironically, although the vendors refrain from giving information about their customers, the shoes (and now knockoff imitations) are traded in the open market. 

By: Abdullah Jurat, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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