Life in Afghanistan's Second Largest City: Kandahar
Unlike Afghanistan's largest city, Kabul, where there is some semblance of modernization into the 21st century, Kandahar, home of the Taliban beginnings, still looks like a dire place. It remains the country's most violent place where Taliban murders and assassinations cause five police incidents daily. Suicide attacks have doubled since 2011.
Kandahar remains a city in ruins, ugly, many places still have dirt roads for its 500,000 residents and diminishing as people flee. Even the most basics, like electricity, is only available for six hours a day. The city, unlike Kabul, has few parks or trees. Nearly all of its redevelopment money is from the US but severely cutback from $161 million in 2011 to $63 million in 2012. Much of the land in the city and outlying areas is owned by the Taliban or those either intimidated or those who support them. Previous mayors who went after the Taliban all have ended up dead. The current mayor states that the Kabul government seems to have "written off" the city and corruption in Kandahar is high among its government. Event he mayor does not trust those under him.
The women in the city are starting to weigh their options. Unless they are a doctor or nurse, they are the few occupations the Taliban accept for women. Thus, many educated women in other fields are retraining to become either or plan to flee to Kabul or Afghanistan. Most of the current jobs are all tied to the US aid and infrastructure services for the city, but, after 2014, they will be gone. Many stores in the city sell goods or food earning $30 a day but many businesses have closed as violence and Taliban fears grow.
Kandahar, it is said, it the key in holding the country together as a unit. Should the Taliban control it again, many feel Afghanistan will disintegrate. As for the Taliban, they are biding their time. Waiting in the wings and the only ones with a long term plan, that is, take back Afghanistan one chunk at a time. This time, the Taliban will turn down the violence as 2014 is closer because they need the local population for support. Instead of using fear and violence, they are blending the "carrot and the stick" method to win them over. The leader of the Taliban in this area claims that once Americans leave, the city will be in their control within a month.
What a prognosis and waste of ten years, not to mention, billions of dollars.
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