|Kabul: 8:50 AM      |
Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a
number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your
own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the
reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.
Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.
Arian Mouj Sharifi
Salaam -- I wanted to add this article about my late friend Farhad jan Ahad. I have been writing a lot about him and trying to keep his memory alive through writing. He was a beautiful person and was very dedicated to Afghanistan. There are some Afghan Americans in Virginia who are trying to raise money to build a school in Kabul honoring his name. He was very precious not only to his friends and family, but to Afghanistan as well as America -- he was the perfect bridge between these two worlds. He was always motivating Afghan Americans to be involved in Afghanistan and to return if possible to rebuild. The plane crash that killed him and his colleagues on board (feb. 24, 2003) was never investigated by the American government and it was a very suspicious crash. Anyway, I wanted to share this article about him. God bless his soul. Afghan native's quest ends Ahad sought to help rebuild his native Afghanistan. By ANNE BLYTHE, Staff Writer Farhad Ahad had one of those life stories that was a real page-turner. He fled his native Afghanistan as a teenager -- led with his parents by a smuggler to Pakistan across treacherous terrain on camels, donkeys and even a bulldozer scoop. Half a lifetime later, the businessman, in his early 30s with a master of business administration degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and work experience at Progress Energy and Enron, returned to his war-torn homeland to help rebuild the country he loved as a child. His friends and former co-workers, many of whom live in the Triangle, had great expectations for the man they describe as driven but fun-loving and affable. "I was pretty convinced that he was going to be some big shot minister in Afghanistan," said Massimo Marolo, 27, a former Enron worker who relocated to Washington. "He had it all worked out. He has this great story -- he escaped Afghanistan and returned later to help the country. He had all the pieces together for a great success story." Ahad, indeed, became a leader in Afghanistan -- the foreign ministry's acting economics director. But his success was short-lived. On Tuesday, according to international news reports, President Hamid Karzai expressed "shock and deep sorrow" over a plane crash that presumably ended the life of Ahad and four Afghan government officials with whom he was traveling. The delegation, which included Mines and Industry Minister Juma Mohammad Mohammadi, had been in Pakistan to talk with Pakistani and Turkmen officials about a trans-Afghan pipeline project. The Cessna plane they chartered reportedly crashed into the Arabian Sea off the southern coast of Pakistan. Word of the downed plane got out quickly to Ahad's close friends in the States. And because one news account listed the wrong job title and had an inaccurate spelling of his name, sorrow was laced with hope. Other news reports came out with the correct spelling and correct title, and a friend in Washington spoke with one of Ahad's sisters, who tamped down that optimism. While flags flew at half-staff around the world Tuesday, e-mail messages and phone calls went back and forth between the many people Ahad touched in this country -- an adopted land where he blossomed from a teenager into a capable deal-maker. "He was an extremely bright individual, just very articulate and thoughtful," said Tom Sullivan, a treasurer at Progress Energy who hired Ahad in early 2002. "We all tipped our hat to him when he decided he was going back to Afghanistan to help with the reformation of the government. We all thought it was pretty cool." Ahad had been at Progress Energy for less than half a year when he went into a supervisor's office and laid out his plans to leave his comfortable life here. He had visited Afghanistan briefly several weeks before that and been devastated by what he had seen in Kabul. His old school was pocked with bullet holes and blast marks. Trees that once stood in the courtyard in front of the well-stocked science labs and classrooms had been cut down during the warlordism of the 1990s to keep fighters from hiding in the grove. Always one to seize an opportunity, Ahad returned to the States after that short trip with two job offers. He would receive $250 each month, he was told, well below his $110,000 annual salary at the now-defunct Enron. But he would have a hand in reshaping a whole country. The day he stepped off a plane in Kabul, he was informed that a minister of public works had been killed in a hail of bullets earlier in the day. His friends said he knew what he was doing was risky, but they also said he liked to be among the palaces of power. Newsweek ran a story about him in July 2002. "I couldn't turn my back," he told the magazine reporters. Pursuing a dream Ahad was just 15 years old and almost drafted into the communist Afghan army to fight the insurgent mujahadeen when his family decided it was time to escape Afghanistan. His mother left with his five sisters first and then returned for her son and husband. While making the harrowing journey to Peshawar, Pakistan, Ahad told several people, the trio had to crouch in the shadow of a lone mountain after Soviets launched flares in the night skies to find the smuggler's caravan. On another occasion, a Soviet helicopter swooped down on the group near Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The smuggler yelled: "Do nothing; sit," according to Ahad's account in Newsweek. The helicopter circled overhead and left. After two harsh years in Pakistan, Ahad and his family set out for the United States for a cramped two-bedroom apartment in Flushing, N.Y. While his sisters worked in pharmacies and supermarkets, he mapped out plans for attaining the so-called American dream. He earned degrees in engineering at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, juggling his studies with a $5-an-hour security guard job. He worked at an energy consulting firm for three years but found the work tedious and decided to pursue an MBA. That path led to Enron and a job in 1999 at a subsidiary in Argentina. He was in Houston in 2001 during several historical moments -- the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and when, after the largest bankruptcy filing in this country, senior managers at Enron told employees to go home. In business school, Ahad hooked up with a circle of seven friends who socialized and planned vacations together. They went to the Bahamas, South Beach, Fla., and Cancun, Mexico. Even after completing their degrees and settling in different parts of the country, they stayed in touch by e-mail and got together whenever their corporate schedules allowed. Ahad was somewhat of a jokester. Some of his Enron co-workers called him Poppie because he was several years older than they and liked to portray himself as a father figure. For a laugh, he would walk up behind Marolo, five years his junior, and say in Spanish: "Who's your daddy?" "He doesn't carry Afghanistan on his sleeve," said Shannon Rosati, a former UNC-CH classmate. "But once you got to know him on a personal level, you understood there was this whole other side to him. He had this very serious intellectual side that is a love of his homeland and a vision for it that made him stay constantly abreast of what was going on there. The other side of him was just this crazy, fun guy, always there for a life doing the most bizarre things." His business school class spent much of the past week trying to think of a suitable memorial. They lament that they never got to hear or read a detailed explanation of the work he was doing in Afghanistan. "I don't think any of us understood what he was doing on a daily basis," Rosati said. "Now we know that he dedicated the last year of his life to that. Every day was just a big deal."
Posted By: zohra   May 30th 2003, 2003 1:50 AM
Kabul: Partial Reconstructions is an installation
and public dialogue project that explores the multiple meanings and resonances of
the idea of reconstruction -- as both process and metaphor -- in the context of present-day Kabul.
www.kabul-reconstructions.net is an online discussion forum, information resource, and medium for the communication of questions and answers about the reconstruction between people inside and outside the city of Kabul itself.