Scottish soldiers serving in Afghanistan have discovered a surprising taste among local people – a love of the bagpipes.
Troops from the Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, received “enthusiastic acclaim” from Afghans when they played the pipes at a meeting to discuss security along a key road in Helmand Province.
The pipers opened and closed the shura, a gathering of tribal elders, in Helmand’s capital Lashkar Gah, hosted by Colonel Abdul Sattar Noorzai, commanding officer of the 2nd Afghan National Police kandak (battalion).
Major Nick Wight-Boycott, officer commanding D Company, Royal Highland Fusiliers, said: “The Afghans really appreciate the pipes, which represent the many similarities between the Pashtuns and the Scots.
“Both peoples come from mountainous countries where tribes or clans have been central to the fabric of the nation for generations.”
The shura, attended by more than 180 people, was called last week to raise concerns about security along Route 601, which connects Lashkar Gah with the city of Kandahar in the east.
Maj Wight-Boycott said one man complained to Col Sattar that an Afghan police officer had committed an assault and stolen money.
But he added that it was “an encouraging sign” that the man was able to come to the shura and expose the alleged wrongdoing without fear of retribution.
The officer said: “This was a very positive event with a good, encouraging atmosphere, and I was pleased to see the very positive reaction we and the Afghan National Police received from the locals.
“It was also great to be able to provide some entertainment with the bagpipes and see the Afghans enjoying the music.”