ABC's Miguel Marquez reports from Afghanistan: Afghanistan is no Iraq. It’s my first time to Afghanistan and already the inverse puzzle of this place compared to Iraq is clear. Kabul feels friendlier and more open than Baghdad ever did but pacifying Afghanistan will be harder than ever contemplated in Iraq. Though I’m a newbie here I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Iraq. I reported in Iraq as the insurgency grew, reached full boil then finally cooled. Getting to Baghdad has gotten easier (or maybe just more familiar) over the years but it always has its jarring moments. From the visa process to overly anxious airport security, flying into Baghdad can have all the comfort of a Charlie horse combined with the ease of a college entrance exam. The flight to Baghdad always feels a little like stepping into a Graham Greene novel. Rarely does one see a woman on a Baghdad bound plane. The men that pack the flight are more often than not westerners of a certain ilk. They are typically large men with short hair who seem to prefer earth tones. The flight to Kabul feels downright normal. Take a flight to ultra-modern Dubai and then it’s a short hop to Kabul aboard Afghanistan’s private airline Safi Airways. Direct non-stop service on Safi has even begun from Frankfurt to Kabul. Rumors of direct flights from London to Baghdad have flown for years. They are still only rumors. Passengers on the Kabul bound flight look ready for a Benetton fashion shoot, a travel adventure or a business conference. Violence here is treated, thought of and considered, differently. In Iraq car bombs, suicide attacks, homemade explosives are always in the context of an ongoing military campaign; more troops and more effort will defeat the bad guys. In Afghanistan violence seems more integrated, or harmonious, with everyday life; as though to say sometimes bad things happen. I suppose that goes along with being a society more or less permanently at war since the Russian invasion in 1979. As an example take Safi Airway’s in-flight magazine. The writer perkily warns Westerners that they are “occasionally targeted by criminals or Taliban sympathizers, and kidnapping can be a threat. The target of suicide bombers are mostly military convoys, stay far away. Riots happen occasionally and are often accompanied by looting – stay well away from them as authorities will respond with lethal force. Avoid walking after dark, and vary your routes during the day. Kabul is generally considered one of the safer parts of the country, but bombings have increased somewhat since 2006.” So following these rules… don’t go out at night and during daylight hours never take the same route twice (should I serpentine while walking?), stay away from kidnappers, criminals, looters, mobs, military convoys, and authorities. Got it… both bad guys and good guys could be hazardous to my health. Lastly, be aware that increased bombings are generally considered somewhat dangerous. An ad for the hotel where I’m staying reads “the rooms are individually air-conditioned, accessorized with amenities you will find in 4 star hotels abroad, sheets are clean, view from room is nice, and – after the suicide bombing that took place – security measures have been implemented.” Baghdad has had plenty of suicide bombers and hotels were often targeted as a result the entire city went on lockdown for years. Only now is Baghdad returning to a point where it feels like a normal city again. Kabul has the pace and feeling of a normal city despite increased violence here. While driving around the city the location of every bombing is pointed out as though it’s part of the tour. In Baghdad there were so many bombings their effects were always obvious. In Kabul there are typically few signs that anything ever happened. Kabul is deceptive. It feels tranquil in contrast to so much of Afghanistan. Baghdad always reflected the violence in rest of the country. In Kabul, one can go out to dinner and when moving about the city the biggest danger comes from other drivers. Driving in Baghdad one always wondered what was going to blow up and how close it would be when it did. A small article in Safi’s in-flight magazine could be metaphor for Afghanistan. It’s about the Kabul Zoo’s most famous resident, a lion named Marjan. In the 1990s after attacking and killing a man who had climbed into his enclosure, the dead man’s brother returned the next day with a hand-grenade looking for revenge. Marjan survived but was left toothless, without an eye and unable to walk. After the US-led invasion here Marjan’s story caught the attention of the world and was cared for until he died of old age in January 2002. The last sentence of the story reads “in the last few weeks of life Marjan enjoyed a heated cage and plenty of food and medicine.” Afghanistan, like Marjan, is deeply wounded and in need of constant care and attention. Still in question is whether Afghanistan will survive. By comparison Iraq, though facing hurdles, is well on its way to recovery.