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.

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Afghanistan Education Developments

Afghanistan has developed a lot in recent years, especially in the field of education. This means that it will likely lead to an improved quality of life for the people since the better educated they are, the more job opportunities they are likely to receive.  Such advancement is exactly the kind of activity Hamed Wardak tries to achieve to make life easier and better for Afghans.  Just a couple of weeks ago, in an unprecedented move, Khost, the country’s eastern province officially opened its doors to the Pamir Institute which is the first one of its kind in the province.  Until now it has never had a place offering private higher education. Founded by Profesor Syed Karim Shah Nekmal, the school is to “offer higher education in computer science, language and literature as well as economics.”
As well, there are to be two school buildings constructed in Kapisa, an eastern province of Afghanistan marked by a foundation stone laying ceremony.  The Allah Mohammad Shaheed High School will have six classrooms and one administrative room and the Qari Mir Asman High School will have eight classrooms and four administrative rooms.

Hamed Wardak and Understanding US-Afghan Relations

Hamed Wardak is an Afghan who makes extensive efforts to improve relations between those in his country and America.  So it might be of interest to Mr. Wardak to check out the new Washington D.C. photography exhibition entitled “In Small Things Remembered:  The Early Years of U.S.-Afghan Relations.”  This exhibition is a depiction of “the century-long history of political, cultural, and economic relations between the United States and Afghanistan.”
The exhibition was set up by the Meridian International Center and presents documents and photos which show friendships that begun many years ago between Americans and Afghans.  This includes collaboration between the two with regards to “economic development projects, American artists and Afghan students, visits by political leaders, and community-based development and assistance projects.”
Hamed Wardak is one of the eight founders of the CUASP (Campaign for a US-Afghanistan Partnership).  The vision of the organization is to “achieve sustainable security and prosperity in Afghanistan.”

Developing Afghanistan

Whenever there are any kind of developments in Afghanistan, it has to be good news for the people.  This is exactly the kind of direction that committed individuals like Hamed Wardak are working towards.  So it spelt good news for Wardak and all Afghans on April 15 when the new airport runway was inaugurated in Uruzgan, the country’s central province.  The runway measures 2,250 meters in length and 28 meters in width and cost $28 million, according to a Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN) report.
Since the runway will be linking Urzugan with the rest of the world, this will for sure “boost residents’ economic position considerably,” according to Mohammad Omar Sherzad, Uruzgan’s Governor.  This is great, and even better news is that there are also plans to build other airports in the Badakhstan and Nimroz provinces soon.

Afghanistan Sports Success Makes for Happy Hamed Wardak

Hamed Wardak – along with anyone else looking for improvements in Afghanistan conditions – would be only too delighted to hear about its country’s performance in the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Challenge Cup 2012 pre-qualifying round that took place in India.  Against Butan, Afghanistan was said to have “easily defeated” their opponents by 3-0 in the first game and 2-0 in the second.  In addition, sports is clearly important to Mr. Wardak especially since his founding of Ludus Athletics earlier this year.

The big names behind the goals leading to Afghanistan’s wins were: Mohammad Sediq Walizada, Nadeem Wahid and Israfeel Kohistani.

What’s great about the Asian Football Confederation’s Challenge Cup – especially for countries that win – is that it was set up specifically for “emerging nations.”  This way such countries get the opportunity to prove themselves on the field, in not just a competitive, but also a fun way.  When they win – as Afghanistan just did – they bring home great cheer and fanfare to their host countries which is always a great morale booster too.

Learning from Afghanistan’s Economy

There are always lessons to be learned from a country’s economy.  This is true also in the case of Afghanistan where there have been significant strides in the last decade or so, probably due to mega-billion dollar investments along with “remittances from Afghan expats.”  Further, the country has improved substantially vis-à-vis its agricultural production and the end of its four-year drought.
So this is good news for those trying to develop the country.  Activists such as Hamed Wardak are always trying to take strides in this vein and when the country’s agriculture and economy develops, its citizens are bound to reap the benefits as well.

Afghanistan Telecommunications Developments

It’s amazing how fast a developing country these days is able to advance.  In Afghanistan, this is just the kind of news that Hamed Wardak – an activist working toward improvement of quality of life for the people in the country – likes to hear.  It seems that in the last decade the government of the country has transformed the country into a place with a strong telecommunications network in place, which is especially impressive given that at the beginning of the 21st century, it had absolutely “no mobile infrastructure at all.”  Today, Afghanistan has licensed four GSM operators and has established “an environment of healthy, transparent competition and low-cost, broad accessibility.”  This is, aturally, leading to economic growth for the country, which is good for everyone.  The mobile industry currently has over 50,000 people on its payroll, which accounts for 12 percent of all government revenues.  Therefore, the telecommunications industry is now the “largest source of foreign investment, bringing more than $1.2 billion dollars into the national economy.”

It is excellent when there is such clear proof that a country like Afghanistan is undergoing such major improvement.  Hamed Wardak and other activists are constantly working hard to see Afghanistan develop.