Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

NYT: Germanwings pilot was locked out of cockpit before crash

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

A food goliath in the making

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Fans distraught as Zayn leaves One Direction

Read more

FOCUS

French baking taking over the world

Read more

ENCORE!

Carl Barat’s Glory Days

Read more

DEBATE

French Alps plane crash: Investigators have no explanation so far (part 1)

Read more

DEBATE

French Alps plane crash: Investigators have no explanation so far (part 2)

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Nigeria's Agriculture Minister defends Goodluck Jonathan's track record

Read more

WEB NEWS

Mexico wants Carmen Arestegui back on air

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2011-07-18

Bamiyan, the future for Afghanistan?

At the start of July, NATO began to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, handing responsibility over to the Afghan authorities. Bamiyan is one of the first regions involved in this process.

The first thing that strikes you on arrival are the distant mountain, with two gaping holes on either side. In March 2001, the Taliban destroyed the two tallest Buddhas in the world: one 38m high, the other 53m. Today, this is probably one of the world's saddest landscapes. The empty niches represent years of barbarity, deception and delusion. At the scene, a few workers pick up the last remaining stones and safely stow them away. According to UNESCO, the stones collected following the destruction of the Buddhas could help to rebuild them one day.

The Hazara

A little further on, we reach the town centre. In reality, it's just a main street with a few stalls on either side of the road. Arriving in Bamiyan gives you the impression that you have left Afghanistan; there are almost no blue burqas and the inhabitants have Mongoloid features. Legend has it that they are direct descendents from Genghis Khan's soldiers. These people are Hazaras, the only Shiite ethnic group in Afghanistan, which is 90% Sunni. The Taliban denounced them as infidels. When the Taliban entered Bamiyan, they killed 15,000 members of the local population. Since then, the population has deplored the Taliban and lives in fear of their return.

Band-e Amir

Not so long ago, the Bamiyan region attracted the most tourists in Afghanistan. Habiba Sarabi is trying to entice the tourists back. In 2005, she became the first Afghan woman to be elected governor of a province. She decided to create Band-e Amir, the first Afghan national park. The series of six lakes in the middle of the mountains contain a certain curiosity. They come in a variety of colours so that the handful of tourists passing through - soldiers, aid workers and even a few Afghans - can paddle on the turquoise lake.

An Afghan fantasy

Despite all this, Bamiyan is one of the poorest regions of Afghanistan. The inhabitants live in caves and use crude, stone-age tools. NATO forces are set to completely withdraw from the province, handing control to the police and army who are unable to drive out the Taliban. But Bamiyan gives a glimpse of how Afghanistan will manage on its own. Whether the Afghanistan of tomorrow will be able to resume its previous way of life or whether it will be deeply marked by the coalition’s intervention remains to be seen. For now, Bamiyan remains the illustrious vision of Afghanistan's future in the minds of the Western powers.

By Sylvain ROUSSEAU

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2015-03-19 Syria

The Syrian woman who dared film life under the IS group

FRANCE 24 meets the young Syrian woman who secretly filmed the Islamic State group in their Raqqa stronghold in Syria and was forced to flee to France, fearing for her life.

Read more

2015-02-12 Tunisia

Tunisians flock to join jihad

As Tunisia moves slowly forward on the path to democracy, the country is proportionally one of the biggest exporters of jihadist fighters. Over the past three years thousands of...

Read more

2015-03-12 Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s controversial 'Renaissance Dam'

In April 2011, Ethiopia began the construction of a huge dam on the Nile. The dam is expected to produce as much energy as six nuclear power stations for one of the world's...

Read more

2015-03-06 Chad

Chad's war against Boko Haram

For several years, Boko Haram has been sowing terror in Nigeria. And the Islamic sect has extended its reach to Cameroon, Niger, and now to Chad.

Read more

2015-02-25 Pakistan

Pakistani Taliban set their sights on police

The Pakistani Taliban are targeting police in Karachi. Over 140 officers were killed last year, most of them victims of targeted assassinations.

Read more