Although we arrived yesterday, this was the first day we had a chance to see Kabul. It wasn’t a pretty site. Lots of unruly traffic…people and vehicles dashing in and out, but fortunately no incidents. Quite a few child beggars.
Then inside Aga Kahn Trust for Culture, we met very dedicated people who are restoring numerous monuments and historical sites. They served a fabulous Afghan lunch in the courtyard, then took us to their ultimate achievement, the gorgeous and impressive restoration of the 25 acre Babur Gardens. Then the “twilight zone” moment when we walked out of the gardens and confronted the rough street.
And off to the Ministry of Health in our armor plated Land Rovers. Run by a woman who is a physician, they have made great progress in increasing the numbers of people who get health services with statistics that show significant improvements in reducing childbirth morbidity and increases in broad-based childhood vaccination programs.
Then off to Abdul Rassoul Sayyaf, presently a member of parliament, but formerly a mujahideen commander until the Taliban took over. He likes the international forces presence and thinks they should not leave till the job is done…otherwise the Taliban will return with a vengeance.
Yesterday, I couldn’t blog due a connection problem. We were briefed by four Embassy staffers, one began with Ambassador Ryan Crocker. His position, that was confirmed in meetings with the President last week, is that we will continue our plan to stay in force until the end of 2014 and then begin to implement an agreement currently being negotiated to keep a small presence until 2024 to assist the Afghan army and police. We must show that we won’t walk out on those we support as we did after the Russians were defeated in 1989.