Thursday, December 18, 2014

Some returning to Afghanistan, despite the risks

Fred (Fareed) from Houston tells me he's going back after three decades to visit high school classmates. But government corruption, fueled by huge western aid contracts, is so terrible that Fred's friends are all in despair about the country's future.

Some returning to Afghanistan, despite the risks

My plane to Kabul was delayed four hours, from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 pm. Plenty of time to chat with Afghan-Americans returning to visit friends or relatives.

Fred (Fareed) from Houston tells me he's going back after three decades to visit high school classmates. Many had fled the country with their families in the 1980s because war made education difficult. Some who went to Russia and got professional degrees came back after the Taliban fell.

But government corruption, fueled by huge western aid contracts, is so terrible that Fred's friends are all in despair about the country's future.

He nearly cancelled his trip when an Afghan-American he knew was kidnapped for ransom leaving Kabul airport, not an uncommon occurence. Turns out, the victim's own nephew was involved and the victim was rescued only when his American family sent money to pay Afghan police to track the nephew. Fred plans to keep all his movements secret and only go by the name of Fareed.

In the meantime, my flight, Safi 202, has become a mystery flight and has disappeared from the board, with no one available to tell hapless passengers when the story will end. Sort of like the story of Afghanistan.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. In 2009-2011 she has made four lengthy trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the past seven years, she visited Iraq eleven times, and also wrote from Iran, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, China, and South Korea.

She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at trubin@phillynews.com.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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