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tv   Afghanistan - Back to the Future  BBC News  August 21, 2021 4:30am-5:01am BST

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this is bbc news, the headlines: thousands of people continue to mass at kabul�*s airport, in the hope of being flown out of afghanistan. nato says so far more than 18,000 have been airlifted out this week. it comes amid reports of executions and torture by the taliban. president biden says the us has made clear to the taliban that any attack on the afghan evacuation mission would be met "quickly and with force". mr biden said he was in "constant contact" with the taliban. there's been anger in haiti over the slow delivery of aid to areas affected by saturday's earthquake. damage to roads is hampering access. more than 2000 people died in the quake. it also injured more than 12,000 people and the casualty toll is expected to rise as rescue efforts continue.
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now on bbc news, afghanistan: back to the future. this is precious. i love this sweet. and ijust ate half of it and kept another half because i thought i will never, ever have them again. for me, this is a diamond. reminds me of my childhood. and the golden time. i was so excited to discover these films. my family had many photographs,
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but we lost them when we fled the afghan wars as refugees. most afghans have no pictures of their past. nothing to show their grandchildren. it is a terrible gap in our lives. these films, kept safe for half a century, are the only ones i have ever seen that have survived the wars. they show my afghanistan — to me, the real one. a land full of life and hope. they tell a special chapter of our story that's almost forgotten. half a century ago, an american, glenn r foster, from california arrived in southern afghanistan. he stayed on for seven years, a keen photographer in black and white and marvellous colour.
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glenn took his 16mm film camera through kandahar and helmand. he toured through villages and deserts. sometimes, hejust let the camera run. people chatter. foster's family kept the films in a trunk at home, and they kept a reel of tape, noting his impressions as plain as the day he recorde them. as the day he recorded them. their calm and optimism surprises our 21st—century heirs. a way to learn about country is to learn about people. it usually turns out people receive the wrong impressions as they rush about. afghanistan
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should someday be on everybody�*s tourist list. but the tourist of the future will not be able to see some of these things. we tracked down foster's assistant, now living on the far side of the world in america. he hadn't seen the films in 50 years. translation: that's me. this is
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me, climbing up the steps, while glenn foster was standing below and filming. iam i am better read the inscriptions. in the reign of akbar, these steps were built. that's what is written there. it is in fast eddie, i am translating for glenn foster —— farsi. those were beautiful times. glenn foster was a goodhearted, wonderful person.
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he was friendly, he spoke politely to people. we would sleep over at villages on the way. the villagers were very hospitable. i recall they would give us milk for lunch, and ghee. they were so generous to glenn and me.— ghee. they were so generous to glenn and me. even though there are masses— glenn and me. even though there are masses of— glenn and me. even though there are masses of people, _ glenn and me. even though there are masses of people, the - are masses of people, the country— are masses of people, the country seemed able to feed them — country seemed able to feed them. although the diet may not be abundant you don't either hunger— be abundant you don't either hunger in_ be abundant you don't either hunger in some countries. beggars— hunger in some countries. beggars are seldom seen. this is due — beggars are seldom seen. this is due in— beggars are seldom seen. this is due in part to the reclamation projects instituted by the — reclamation projects instituted by the government. bread sold in a bakery like this is very, very— in a bakery like this is very, very delicious. you may want a little _ very delicious. you may want a little something to go with your— little something to go with your bread. here you can buy a little _ your bread. here you can buy a
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little mutton and be on your wax — the films capture a time when afghanistan was changing, modernising, filling with ideas. king zahir, the last afghan king, imagined a forward—looking country, united under one flag. all asia was emerging from the second world war. the old imperial power, britain, in retreat. new countries were born. india and pakistan, afghanistan's most intimate neighbour. in 1956, pakistan drew up its first constitution. it declared itself as something completely new — an islamic republic. drummers play.
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mehtabuddin crossed the border into pakistan to film the celebrations. the schoolchildren are queuing up for an orange as a gift. it was a time of moral ambition, of aspiration for all. zahir shah saw his country as at the heart of a modern asia. here he is greeting the visiting president of turkey, celal bayar, in 1958. zahir shah cautiously opened up state and society. he reformed the army. he promoted afghan national independence day, known
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as thejeshn. i took the camera myself, i put it up on someone's shoulder and shot. i rememberthis it up on someone's shoulder and shot. i remember this clearly. translation: i went out filming. you can see the parade. the schoolchildren marched first, then came the sportsman. ifilmed it all. it's hard to imagine now, but then kabul had money in the bank. $100 million.
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zahir shah decided to place his investment strategically into the south of afghanistan, where the river helmand cuts through an immense desert. dr farouq azam was adviser in the afghan ministry for power and energy. translation: he saw a vast and wild deserts and so much flowing water. he thought there was great potential for farming in this wasteland. it was totally empty! he realised that the water could be put to work. zahir shah hired the best foreign engineers with state—of—the—art equipment from a company called morrison knudsen. everyone called it mk.
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mk wasa mk was a big company from boise idaho, it was an influential company. they signed a treaty to build the canal, to extend it. to explore and survey the land, so the project you see today all began with this treaty signed with mk in 1946. explosion. translation: the idea was built —— born to build a dam. they researched water conservation so that the land might be irrigated all year round. the idea of the kajaki dam was initially to control flooding, to irrigate and generate
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electric power. and that's how our film—maker, glenn foster, came to be there. he was an engineer with morrison knudsen. mk drove roads through the desert and canals through the sand. it built three collossal dams at lightning speed. foster and mehtabuddin went out to film each stage of the project in detail, from the grand opening of the dams to the narrowest canals spreading across the desert. not many americans still remember the old days in helmand, but there are a very few.
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went to afghanistan in, er... my daughter was about a year old. i went ahead of you because we didn't have any house for the family for the first six months, and we were working on the new kandahar international airport. mm—hm. and then they came over about six months later. ——and inge came over about six months later. we lived in this little bungalow... it was a duplex. was it a duplex? yes, and it had one bathroom, a living room and a long kitchen with a table at the end with two chairs. quite small, yeah. that was the dining room. she laughs. well, been built on a huge compound that the government of afghanistan had made available to mk quite a few years earlier when mk went in in 1946—7 to start the helmand valley project. the way these guys are so self—sufficent and so... if you are working here
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and have to move a 20—tonne generator from here to there you can't call upjoe blow at the crane outfit and tell him to send over a 200—tonne crane! but they knew how to do it. they laugh. the american technicians didn't come to afghanistan as single men forjust a few weeks, as they do now. no, they brought their families, their phonographs. they brought their swimming costumes. music plays.
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helmand was a fun place to grow up. my neighbours were american. we used to go to their picnics and 4th ofjuly parties. we used to invite them to our eid celebrations. i went to a co—educational school. my father opened a cinema in helmand. everything seemed possible then.
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i remember santa claus arriving on a donkey in lashkar gah and the presents he brought. really nice coloured pencils, books, dolls and sweets. afghanistan's irrigation projects had many difficulties in the early years. the land flooded, salts rose up through the earth and the early settlers were herdsmen with not much idea how to farm.
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it took a lot more investment and loans — huge loans — to green the desert. afghanistan's debt grew as the age of independence slipped into the age of international development. the new us government aid agency, usaid, replaced morrison knudsen.
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we afghans felt safe in those days to go wherever we wanted, more than a million people moved into southern afghanistan in these boom years, seeking jobs in schools, hospitals and factories. glenn foster had no doubt in the power of technology to bring about profound
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social change. kandahar�*s brand new airport used the latest technology. the outside world was drawing closer. we didn't see our new airport as the product of far away cold war between the united states and the soviet union. to us, it was a marvellous
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new opportunity. we were building the international airport. the airport included large underground fuel tanks, very high capacity fuel tanks. it included very sophisticated refuelling system, electronically controlled, right out of the apron. it included overnight facilities for maybe 100 people. back in the �*50s and �*60s when a plane stopped to refuel everybody got out and stayed over night wherever you were on the way while the aircraft was serviced, and then the pilots and everybody would get back on it the next morning! it was designed to use the maximum of local materials. and all construction around kandahar was all adobe and brick — there was no timber and no steel — so the airport was designed as brick and it was designed as arches.
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we had huge, big parabolic arches like this out facing the apron, and then a barrel arch that went behind them to enclose the terminal building. and the afghans were, they were experts on that kind of construction. well, the russians had built this beautiful airport in kabul, so usa said, "wait a minute, we can't have the russians building..." that's my opinion — building airports up in kabul, we've got to do something too, so they built one up in kandahar with usaid money. correct? that's right. yeah. in 1973, king zahir shah's cousin daoud khan overthrew him in a bloodless coup. he declared afghanistan a republic and himself the first president.
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daoud khan rode the tiger of his times, balancing big investments from the americans against those of the soviet union. i was part of that lucky generation, the first who would reap the rewards of all the hard work. we were ambitious girls. we had big ideas — to be lawyers, to be doctors, to transform our country. we could not have known how very quickly the best of times would become the worst. in 1978, a group of communist army officers overthrow
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president daoud khan, the saur coup d'etat. it began a generation of war and invasion — the war we are still living with today. my parents were worried for our future. my sisters and i dressed in old burqas and plastic shoes. we managed to catch a bus across the border into pakistan as refugees. we tookjust a small bundle of things. mehtabuddin escaped to, along the road he had helped to build in the 1940s.
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in december 1979, soviet troops entered kabul. they broke open pul—i charkhijail. dr azam escaped like us. he's fled the country and spent years abroad as a refugee. the years of war brought the dams, canals and power lines of southern afghanistan close to dereliction. kandahar airport, though, is still largely intact.
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the andersons didn't think they would see it again until a different technological innovation made that possible. i went on the internet here not too long ago to see what i could find out about the international airport in kandahar. and ifound out that the nato forces were using it but that also the afghanistan national airlines was using it for domestic flights all over afghanistan. and also for some international flights in the area. i would go back there. yeah. yeah, those were the days. we had a good life, we really did. we had a really good life.
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most of us can expect to see some rain over the weekend, and some rain over the weekend, and some of that rain could be quite heavy. saturday looks to be the wettest day, spells of heavy rain, sunday should be a bit brighter, with some sunshine but still one or two showers this is the recent satellite picture and you can see the top of cloud working on from the west, this is a weather front, it is going to continue to bring outbreaks of rain, and instead of clearing through quickly, this front will stick with us all day on saturday because there is this wave, this wriggle running along it, holding the front back and stop it from clearing away quickly, so western area starting the day on a really soggy note, a little bit drier further east, but mainly cloudy and through the day our wet weather will stagger its way eastwards with some heavy and possibly sundry bursts mixed
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in, and even as things brighten up, wales, perhaps northern scotland we will still see some scattered showers and thunderstorms popping up, quite breezy for wales in the south—west, lighter winds elsewhere, and temperatures a little disappointing, really for the time of year, 17— 21 degrees. as we head through saturday night our rain will continue to stagger eastwards but you can see it tending to fizzle away, turning lighter and patchier and many places will start sunday morning on a dry note but with a lot of cloud, the mist and mud on what will be a quite mild on muggy night, 13, 1a, 15 degrees, so we start sunday with low pressure quite close to the eastern side of the uk but high—pressure beginning to build in from the south—west, so that means something a little bit drier drier on sunday. there will be quite a lot of cloud around but that cloud should break from time to time to give spells of sunshine and we will see some showers breaking out, especially across scotland and parts of england and is likely to stay
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quite grey and damp across the northern isles, temperatures still struggling after around 21, maybe 22 degrees in the sunniest spots, but, into next week this area of high pressure establishes itself more strongly, so a few are looking for drier and brighter weather, the start of next week looks quite promising. we will see some good spells of sunshine, certainly it looks mostly dry, but there is no heatwave on the way, temperatures in the low to mid 20s in the sunshine, that will feel quite pleasant.
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this is bbc news, i'm lewis vaughanjones. our top stories: despair and danger in afghanistan, as thousands at kabul airport beg for safe passage away from the taliban. president biden tells the taliban any attack on the afghan evacuation mission would be "met with force". nearly a week after the earthquake in haiti, victims in the some of hardest hit areas are still waiting for help. # here we go again... plus, keeping busy during an unwanted intermission: how the cast of mamma mia found themselves working different jobs during lockdown — now they're ready to go again.

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