America Comes to Afghanistan…pre-bin Laden’s Demise

Even before Osama bin Laden plunged to his death, it seemed the big Apple may have taken a little trip and landed somewhere soft and cozy in Afghanistan.  Last month, PepsiCo – possibly one of the most American of American companies – set up shop in the country.  It signed “an exclusive deal with the Dubai based Alokozay Group to manufacture and distribute popular PepsiCo beverages such as Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew and 7-UP in Afghanistan.” To render this a reality, the Afghanistan province of Kabul will be home to a $60m beverage bottling plant that is hoped to begin work March of next year.

While the United States of America hasn’t exactly been popular in Afghanistan over the years, things are definitely changing.  With a US presence in the land, there is lots of good news ahead for the average Afghan.  Apart from getting American financial backing for establishments such as school buildings, since the best assistance is when one helps one help themselves, this latest venture of introducing the PepsiCo franchise into Kabul – that is set to directly lead to 800 jobs – has to make America popular in Afghanistan.  For individuals such as Hamed Wardak, who not only work on improving relations between Afghanistan and America but also attempt to enhance the quality of life for Afghans, the franchise and job creation it will lead to is fantastic news.

Improving Education Possibilities in Kunar

A new school will be built in the Khas Kunar district of Kunar (an eastern province in Afghanistan), which is great news for all those Afghans trying to improve their quality of life.  Hamed Wardak, for example, is always seeking to help the people of Afghanistan and news like this is definitely a step in the right direction.  Wardak founded the Campaign for a US-Afghanistan Partnership (CUSAP) with just this kind of work in mind.

The opening ceremony of the school was attended by the province’s governor Fazlullah Wahidi, community leaders, education officials, students and teachers.  It took six months for the building to be constructed at a cost of $264,000.  The building will house ten classrooms (with 160 2-person tables and chairs), four administrative rooms, and five bathrooms as well as a surrounding well.

AACC Launches 6th Annual Matchmaking Conference

The sixth annual U.S.-Afghanistan Business Matchmaking Conference was launched by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC), with its founding vice president Hamed Wardak, this past November. The event was attended by businessmen and women, government officials and financial company representatives.

The goal of the conference is to increase American-Afghan business deals by identifying new opportunities and presenting the benefits that these partnerships have to offer. Mr. Frank Ruggerio, the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan-Pakistan (SRAP) also described the U.S. supports four priorities as: new business growth, legal reform, increased economic growth, trade and expanding help for businesses.

Building Bridges: Afghans and Americans

Hamed Wardak is the founding vice-president of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce, which aims to foster an appreciation for Afghani culture and the Afghani people by Americans. The Chamber is primarily focused on Americans in the United States, while other organizations, such as Afghan Hands, works to train service members of the International Security Assistance Force to become experts in Afghan culture and to build strong partnerships between the members of the security force and  Afghan governmental and non-governmental institutions, and with the people of Afghanistan themselves.  Two hundred men and women have now participated in the program.

Afghanistan’s Cultural-Historical Legacy

Afghanistan is uniquely situated at the heart of the Silk Road. Its geographic location has resulted in a multi-faceted cultural legacy that has encompassed its historical connections with other nations throughout Asia and Europe. In the U.S., Americans are gaining appreciation for Afghanistan’s distinctive culture and history through the efforts of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce, whose founding vice-president is Hamed Wardak. Now, British citizens will also have the opportunity to learn more about this nation’s cultural heritage, as the British Museum will be holding a major exhibition displaying over 200 rare objects from Afghanistan’s ancient past, the earliest of which will be gold objects from Afghan’s early history.

Tickets go on sale this month, November 2010, and are available through the British Museum. The exhibit will open on March 3, 2011.