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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.

Mariam Ghani
Zohra Saed
Massoud Hosseini
Nassima Mustafa
Bibigol Ghani
Arian Mouj Sharifi
Soraia Ghani

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U.S. reshuffles its appointees in Afghanistan
Calling In the Heavyweights How the Bush administration plans to reshuffle the group responsible for rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq NEWSWEEK Aug. 12 - The White House is beefing up its senior team handling reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq. President George W. Bush plans to name Robert Blackwill, the former U.S. ambassador to India, to lead his National Security Council office on the two countries, NEWSWEEK has learned. At the same time, Zalmay Khalilzad, the president's special envoy for Afghanistan, is to become U.S. ambassador in Kabul. AN NSC SPOKESMAN said Blackwill's appointment was expected to be announced formally this week. The shake-up marks a renewal of White House attention on Afghanistan, after months of neglect of the first battleground in the war on terror and widespread criticism of the pace of change in the second. In another sign of its revived commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan, the administration is planning to spend an additional $1 billion over the next year, in the run-up to the country's national elections in June. However, the shake-up also underscores how Afghanistan has suffered from the lack of senior attention in the White House over the last year. Khalilzad, who is Afghan-American himself, was heavily engaged in working with Iraqi exiles and told Afghan colleagues he was unable to devote enough time to both countries. His move to Kabul reinforces the U.S. political presence in Afghanistan, placing one of the White House's most respected officials in the Afghan capital. His predecessor, Robert Finn, was previously ambassador to Tajikistan and lacked Khalilzad's access to the White House. Inside the White House, Blackwill is expected to be an effective counterpart for both Khalilzad and L. Paul Bremer, the senior U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq. Blackwill's appointment adds a heavyweight presence to a White House team that has often been overshadowed by the larger-than-life principals across the administration, especially Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Blackwill was one of Bush's team of foreign policy advisers when he ran for office in the 2000 presidential campaign. And the former ambassador's relationship to Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, was cemented when they both served as Soviet experts during the collapse of the USSR in the last Bush administration. Blackwill's stature should help with at least one of the major shortcomings in Iraq's reconstruction, as identified last month by a task force of independent experts commissioned by Rumsfeld and Bremer. The task force, led by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, found that the Iraqi administration needed a more direct and responsive relationship with Washington-stretching from Congress to the Pentagon. However it is Afghanistan where Blackwill is expected to have the biggest impact, not least because the situation on the ground remains so grim. Another group of experts, sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, painted a bleak picture of the country in June, warning that there was a risk of "a reversion to warlord-dominated anarchy [that would] mark a major defeat for the U.S. war on terrorism". Citing the lack of U.S. support for President Hamid Karzai's government against the country's regional warlords, the experts warned of "a dangerous security void outside Kabul" which they blamed for "the painfully slow progress in reconstruction". The experts pressed for the swift rebuilding of the road from the capital to the southern city of Kandahar by the end of this year, and the expansion of the new Afghan army from a target of 9,000 to 27,000 troops by next summer. Alongside better security, and greater funds for reconstruction, the experts also urged the United States to lean on Iran, Russia and Pakistan to cease meddling in Afghanistan, especially their support for the warlords. Other analysts say the Bush administration has failed at an even more basic level in Afghanistan since it toppled the Taliban regime at the end of 2001. Thomas Gouttierre, dean of international studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, says Washington has relied too heavily on a confusing and costly mixture of international aid in Afghanistan, instead of providing leadership in the country's reconstruction. "I think we are coming to understand the problem requires more than we have put into the country to date," Gouttierre says. "The biggest problem so far has been the inability to formulate a well-coordinated plan for what should be the U.S. role in Afghanistan. It's always been my belief that it should be a command role in terms of reconstruction, just as it has been with the military." Still, even with a change of U.S. officials, security remains an enormous obstacle for the Karzai government. NATO took control of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan on Monday, providing some continuity of command for the so-called International Security and Assistance Force. Until now, a different country has taken control of the force every six months. While NATO's role marks a new chapter for the transatlantic alliance-the Afghan operation is its first outside Europe-it does not meet the more pressing demands from Karzai and the United Nations to extend the force outside Kabul. Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. secretary general's special envoy for Afghanistan, pressed that case again in talks with Colin Powell at the State Department on Monday. Compared to the 5,000-strong international force, the United States still has around 9,000 troops in Afghanistan in pursuit of Taliban fighters and Al Qaeda terrorists. Neither military operation has progressed smoothly in recent months. U.S. troops killed two Pakistani soldiers near the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan this week, even though the Pakistanis are close allies in the hunt for Al Qaeda in the border region. And in a sign of the continued strength of terrorists in Afghanistan, four German peacekeepers were killed in a car bombing in Kabul in June. Incidents like those illustrate how Afghanistan needs far more than a reshuffling of top officials in Washington. Blackwill and Khalilzad will need all their diplomatic skills-as well as a heap of good fortune-to help steer the country to its first elections since the fall of the Taliban.
Posted By: mariam   August 14th 2003, 2003 11:47 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.