Some of the best parts of The Taliban Shuffle are Barker's encounters with various Afghan and Pakistani high officials, all of whom are fairly eccentric characters. But, inevitably, it becomes difficult to keep track of their names and positions. Here is a short list of some of the figures met in the book.
Pacha Khan Zadran: A powerful warlord and leader in Southern Afghanistan. Zadran was involved in driving out the Taliban, but soon thereafter turned on US forces because, in Barker's opinion, "No one paid enough attention to him".
Zalmay Khalilzad: The US Ambassador to Afghanistan during the period covered in the book. Khalilzad is described as being perpetually surrounded by attractive women in tight clothing, dubbed "Zal's gal's".
Abdul Jabar Sabat: A conservative Afghani lawyer described as "windmill-slaying". Sabat develops a claustrophobic friendship with Barker early in her career in Kabul.