Afghanistan is rebuilding, slowly, after more than a decade of war. But is the progress being made fleeting, or built-to-last?
That's a question Charles Sennott, co-founder of GlobalPost and head of The GroundTruth Project, is pondering this week from the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. He joined Boston Public Radio remotely from Mazar, where he is taking stock of the gains that have been made in the country since the U.S. invasion in 2001.
Mazar is connected to other major cities in Afghanistan by Highway 1, or the "Ring Road," a highway built with hundreds of millions of U.S. and foreign aid dollars. The road is now a cornerstone of the slowly rebuilding economy that's sprung up in Afghanistan and a sign of the mixed progress that's resulted from the past decade.
"There's this mix of images," Sennott explained. "The road is battered and pocked from farming, there's still a lot of violence here, but the road is here and commerce is better."
Education, especially for women, is another area that has seen tentative gains.
"Seeing little girls in their uniforms marching off with their backpacks to school is absolutely one of those very positive things that now tenuously hangs in the balance as Afghanistan moves forward, and the U.S. prepares for its very slow withdrawal," Sennott said.
But locals are worried that the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan—which President Obama announced in March he would delay until next year—could jeopardize the progress that's been made. Sennott said he spoke to a low-level commander whose prognosis was bleak.
"He was absolutely perfectly clear that the second the U.S. and the international community stop paying for the Afghan National Army, it will fall apart and the Taliban will move back in," Sennott said.
"It's a picture you very commonly hear here," he said.
To hear more from Charles Sennott, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.