It's September 2001 and Laila and Tariq are working. They notice a crowd gathering in the hotel lobby, staring at a television screen tuned to the BBC. Laila and Tariq join the crowd and watch as a plane crashes into the second World Trade Center Tower in New York.
A few days after President Bush declares war on Afghanistan, Tariq suggests to Laila that if the U.S.A. is able to remove the Taliban, Afghanistan could be benefit. Laila reminds Tariq that war is war and it doesn't matter whose bombs are falling when innocent people are dying. But, in her heart, she sees his point, and shares his hope that the American invasion will bring a better future to the country she's run from. Late in the night, Zalmai wakes up coughing. Tariq goes to comfort him and the boy nuzzles his head into his shoulder.
Tariq and Laila's perspectives on the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan contrast two dominant discourses about wars: the idea of a just war versus the idea that no war is a good war. First, Tariq presents the argument that the United States might be able to change the current state of affairs in Afghanistan by removing the Taliban. His argument is based on his personal beliefs — he's horrified that the Taliban say they're harboring Osama bin Laden because he's a "guest" — as well as his hope that by removing the Taliban, Afghanistan will finally have a fair government rather than a cruel dictatorship. Laila's arguments are largely based on her experiences in Kabul leading up to and during the Taliban invasion. She saw her parents die and the city and culture she loves crumble. She cannot see how such violence can render a positive solution. Through their dialogue, Hosseini demonstrates the difficulty of creating change, particularly on a large scale. By allowing them both to speak their mind, Hosseini shows that both views have merit and that both views must be kept in mind if any change is to occur.