Seeing things differently: nang, tura, zolm, and other cultural factors in Taliban attitudes to drones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article addresses the question of what the Taliban think about drones. Western literature on this question is predominately anti-war, anti-drone, or critical of the lack of transparency, which means little to the Taliban. The discussion here focuses on their literature, exploring it through the frames of how Pashtuns understand war and bravery in combat, how Pashtuns have created meta narratives to discuss the relationship between US and allied use of force and how that connects to a wider understanding of the legitimacy. This has important policy implications because the primacy that the drone has in the West as a totemic weapon of war does not exist for the Taliban. Their dislike of drones is indivisibly and culturally bound, not specific to the instrument as distinct from other means of aerial and indirect fire.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-217
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Early online date4 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019


  • taliban, drones, culture