The elders estimated that more than 100 families had fled Shahabuddin because of the local police. The people were defenseless, they said, and indeed they all seemed cowed and frightened. But before we parted ways, one of them, with a note of defiance, assured me: “Nur-ul Haq has no place in this province. As long as the foreign troops are here, he is king. The minute they go, he should leave the country.” Another agreed: “I bet he can’t stay for one night in Baghlan if there are no foreign troops.” Grinning at the prospect, the old man added, “The people will rise against him.”