Daily Video

March 19, 2009

Pizza, Guitars Still Threatened in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a country still undergoing big changes after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the authoritarian Islamic rule of the Taliban.

In this report, NewsHour correspondent Margaret Warner travels the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan and talks to a variety of Afghans about what life is like in their country.

Although the conservative Islamic country enjoys a greater degree of freedom – girls walk to school and people can buy musical instruments – violence, fear and corruption are still big problems for regular Afghans.

While the country now has its own version of American Idol, the owner of a pizza restaurant that serves alcohol still gets death threats for breaking Islamic law. Workers also have trouble finding jobs amid deteriorating infrastructure.

Despite the overthrow of the Taliban, extremism is part of everyday life and militants protect the Afghan drug trade.

Quotes

“Despite billions spent on reconstruction by the international community, the country is heaving under the weight of a failing infrastructure: unpaved roads, lack of running water, and open sewers.” – Margaret Warner

“Eighty percent of us are living below $1.25 a day. Poverty knows no ethnicity; it does not know gender.” – Ashraf Ghani, former Finance Minister

“Unfortunately, the law is only for poor people, not for big fish or big government officials.” – Gen. Aminullah Amarkhel, former commander, Kabul International Airport

“While we’ve seen consistently low levels of support for the Taliban, we’ve also seen consistently low impressions of their own government, in terms of effectiveness and corruption.” – Brig. Gen. John Nicholson

Warm Up Questions

1. Where is Afghanistan?

2. Why did the U.S. invade Afghanistan?

Discussion Questions

1. What are some images of freedom and repression in this report?

2. What are the difficulties in going from a totally closed society to a relatively open one?

3. Is it the U.S. role to end corruption or the drug trade? Why or why not?

4. Why isn’t the United States as unstable as Afghanistan? Are there parts of the country that are as dangerous as Kabul?

5. Were you surprised that girls could not go to school under the Taliban? Why would they want to prevent women from being educated?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

In-depth Coverage: Afghanistan

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