Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Cannes 2017: Al Gore 'The modern climate movement was launched here'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Manchester, United

Read more

ENCORE!

TV series 'Top of the Lake: China Girl' screened at Cannes

Read more

FOCUS

A lifeline for women facing domestic violence in Pakistan

Read more

ACCESS ASIA

Afghanistan's new TV channel by and for women

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Former minister accused of role in murder of two UN investigators in DR Congo

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Murder in Manchester': Press reacts to Arena terror attack

Read more

ENCORE!

Cannes 2017: Naomi Campbell hosts 'Fashion For Relief'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Trump's visit to Israel in key images

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

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

2017-05-18 Asia-pacific

Video: India's battle against 'superbugs'

It’s the gravest healthcare threat facing humanity. The World Health Organization has estimated that antibiotic resistance, or ‘superbugs’ as these bacteria have come to be...

Read more

2017-05-12 Middle East

How natural gas could be a geopolitical game-changer in the Mideast

It's a discovery that could easily shake up the geopolitical order in the Middle East. Deep under the eastern Mediterranean lies the largest natural gas basin ever found on...

Read more

2017-05-04 Asia-pacific

Forced into exile: The plight of the Rohingyas

There are more than 1.3 million Rohingya people in the world. Although they have lived in Burma for more than two centuries, this Muslim minority is not among those officially...

Read more

2017-04-28 Spain

The booming business of cannabis in Spain

In Spain, thanks to the success of the "clubs" that have cropped up since 2011, cannabis has become a gold mine. From by-products such as cannabis lollipops and drinks, to...

Read more

2017-04-21 France

Battle to stop nuclear waste being buried in a French village

The village of Bure, in eastern France, has become a battleground for environmentalists. It has been chosen as a site to bury radioactive waste, 500 metres underground. An...

Read more