Afghanistan - not the negatives only

Although probably for most of foreigners Afghanistan usually associates with negative aspects only and security situation there undoubtedly is still far from ideal, there are also positive aspects usually unnoticed by the general public.

I recently returned from my second visit this year to Afghanistan - during these visits I had opportunity not only to meet with officials, but also had opportunity to get a wider insight, including accidental meetings and discussions with locals, visits to different objects, a  visit to a university during thesis presentation.

It was visible that security situation is not getting better and it will certainly be the major or one of the major concerns and challenges for foreseeable future. But what seems to be unnoticed or overshadowed by the typical news headlines is the gradual development of the country. Some observations that surprised were many students and pupils, many well educated and skilled people (at least in the capital city), construction of roads, railroads and buildings, availability and quality of electronic communications services, variety of commodities at shops.

Education and economic development seems to be key factors for further development and stability of this country - without it probably no armed forces will be able to stabilize Afghanistan. Also Latvia should increase its efforts in supporting development of Afghanistan. And the Northern Distribution Network, the inland surface and air cargo transportation route connecting Latvia and Afghanistan, and prospects of its commercialization may serve as a ground for further Latvian contribution to development of Afghanistan - for example, aid in development of transportation infrastructure and competence building in transportation sector.

As one Afghan said, Afghanistan has only two future development scenarios - either up or down. I sincerely hope Afghanistan will go up. 

Published 26 September 2012

Author Māris Andžāns