Transforming Kandahar

<p>Despite ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, Kandahar's officials, residents and planners are envisioning a prosperous and sustainable future for the city.</p>

February 27, 2007, 7:00 AM PST

By Michael Dudley

"[Kandahar's] city elders, politicians, aid workers and other notables sat down for cups of green tea. They didn't gather to talk about the previous day's violence, or to discuss the problem of Taliban digging bunkers just outside the city limits. They were looking at a much bigger picture: trying to imagine the future of Kandahar city."

"Over the next two days, as the radio buzzed with news of war and birds chirped in the well-tended gardens around their meeting hall, the city planners sketched an outline for the next five years. In the end, they produced a 35-page document that calls for a 'prosperous, beautiful, well-developed Kandahar city,' a place transformed from a jumble of mud-brick warrens into a modern centre with paved walking paths, electric buses and public Internet kiosks."

"The sheer optimism of the vision -- recycling plants, sports facilities and tree nurseries -- seems almost naive, but the official in charge of planning says it's feasible."

"'We have a dream,' said Mohammed Rahim Rahimi, head of Kandahar's economy department. 'Afghanistan will be the best country in Asia.'"

Saturday, February 24, 2007 in The Globe and Mail

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