Soviet control of this village at the foothills of Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountain range is represented by an encampment of Soviet troops a couple of miles to the south on the road from the capital, Kabul.
A couple of armed Soviet soldiers with Asian features sit idly by the side of the road in front of the camp, where 20-odd others can be seen amid a light tank, an armored personnel carrier and a few pup tents.
Apparently it is enough. Jabulsaraj is quiet, on our visit Thursday.
But at the northern edge of the village, a carload of reporters can go no farther. The road to the Salang Pass about 25 miles further north is blocked by Afghan soldiers, who warn that the road is unsafe because of heavy fighting between Soviet forces and Afghan Moslem rebels joined by renegade Afghan troops.
An account of the fighting related by Afghan soldiers and townspeople here illustrates the friction between Afghans and the Soviet occupation troops that can suddenly erupt into spontaneous and uncoordinated fighting. The story also shows that the Soviet troops are well advised -- as they apparently have been -- to have as little contact with the local population as possible.
According to residents here, the fighting flared Monday when some of the estimated 600 Soviet soldiers guarding the Salang Pass entered the homes of Afghan soldiers and, for reasons unclear, killed some of them. One grizzled Afghan officer here said there was "heavy fighting" with a number of Soviet casualties. Townspeople said Moslem rebels joined Afghan soldiers in fighting the Soviets.
Although the fighting reportedly was continuing Thursday -- villagers, said at least one Afghan had been killed in his home by Soviets that morning -- there was no evidence that the Soviets had lost control of the Salang Pass, a vital link in the road from the Soviet border to Kabul that was used by the Soviet 357th Motorized Rifle Division as an invasion route.
Featuring a three-mile-long tunnel at an altitude of about 12,000 feet, the Salang Pass is considered a primary target for Afghan rebels fighting the new Soviet-installed government.
Closure of the pass by destruction of the tunnel or a series of protective concrete galleries would severely hamper the Soviets' overland resupply effort since the road is the only paved one into the capital from the north.
Between Kabul and this village about 50 miles to the north, there was no sign of the guerrilla war that prompted Moscow to intervene last month to install a loyal communist government in Afghanistan.
The only unusual activity was at the town of Chriskar, 38 miles north of Kabul. There local party supporters of President Babrak Karmal had organized a progovernment demonstration complete with red banners and red-bordered posters of former president Nur Mohammed Taraki, slain in September and now considered a martyr by the new leadership.
The mood of the public was evident as the speaker, guarded by Afghan soldiers armed with Soviet automatic rifles, drew only a smattering of unenthusiastic applause from a crowd of several hundred townspeople. Most of those assembled watched in curious silence as the speaker denounced the recently toppled -- and slain -- president Hafizullah Amin and "American imperialism."
In other towns and villages along the road to Jabulsaraj it was business as usual. At Qarabash, about 27 miles north of Kabul, cloaked and turbaned villagers busily loaded bales of straw onto camels for treks to outlying hamlets and haggled at bazaar stalls.
Except for the cars and buses dodging through the conglomeration of camels, donkeys, pushcarts and traders on the road through the village, the scene looked like it had not changed for centuries.
At other places along the road, village life was concealed behind high, ancient-looking mud and brick walls -- some with fortress-like turrets -- built to protect against the Afghan bandits who still plunder villagers and travelers in many parts of this country.
The rumbling by of the occasional Soviet tank or armored personnel carrier serves to break the spell and remind one that such fortifications make little difference to a modern, mechanized invasion force.
A few miles north of Kabul the presence of that force is seen in base camps and gun positions that the Soviets have set up on both sides of the road.
The work of fortifying these positions continues, indicative of plans for a long stay. On a ridge overlooking the road, Soviet soldiers can still be seen digging foxholes and trenches two weeks after the Dec. 27 coup.
Already, however, some of the youthful Soviet soldiers clearly would like to go home. One from the vicinity of Petrogorsk said he had arrived in Afghanistan before the coup and does not like it here.
"Moscow's better," he told a couple of visitors who stopped by the side of the road to chat. "I've been there several times. I have a brother there who is a policeman."
Two companions helping to guard the entrance to their camp bargained in sign language with four Afghan boys for cheap trinkets including key chains with pictures of Charlton Heston and Lana Turner on them. One soldier, an Uzbek, traded his warm Soviet Army mittens for a cheap bead necklace.
Apparently the trinket business is booming at other posts.
One of the boys, about 12 years old, displayed a thick wad of notes, including Soviet rubles.