Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PRESS

Much ado about nothing? Actress Natalie Portman's boycott of 'Jewish Nobel awards' sparks backlash

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump: Strategic BFFs?

Read more

IN THE PRESS

'Badass': Accolades pour in for Southwest pilot who landed plane after engine failure

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Poverty remains a challenge for Paraguay as new president is elected

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Former Liberian warlord sentenced to 30 years in US prison

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Fans and players react online to Arsene Wegner's club departure

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Suspected chemical attack in Syria: Gunfire delays deployment of inspectors

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Cashing in on local French currencies

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Life on the canals of northern France

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

2018-04-20 Africa

Africa’s donkeys slaughtered for Chinese ‘miracle elixir’

Every year, China slaughters millions of donkeys to make Ejiao, a traditional medicine hailed as a ‘miracle elixir’ which is used to treat various ailments. As China’s donkey...

Read more

2018-04-13 Americas

From Brazil to Canada: the new odyssey for African migrants

Canada has become the new El Dorado for many African migrants, who have seen Europe and the United States close their borders. But they face a dangerous journey across South and...

Read more

2018-04-06 Africa

Video: Mauritanian Sahara delights tourists again after years blighted by terror

After years blighted by terror attacks, tourists are beginning to return to Mauritania. Charter flights between Paris and the Mauritanian Sahara resumed in December 2017....

Read more

2018-03-30 Middle East

Video: Fighting for survival in war-torn Yemen

Since 2015, Yemen has been locked in a civil war in which Saudi Arabia – a supporter of Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi-- has led a Sunni coalition against Houthi...

Read more

2018-03-23 terrorism

Inside the Kurdish courts trying IS group militants

The long and gruesome war that the Kurds have waged against the Islamic State (IS) group has not only left thousands dead but also produced many prisoners. For the first time, a...

Read more