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tv   Afghanistan - Back to the Future  BBC News  August 22, 2021 3:30am-4:01am BST

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a government in afghanistan. the group's co—founder and head of its political wing, mullah abdul ghani baradar, is in kabulfor talks, which are expected to include militant commanders, former government leaders and religious scholars. hurricane henri is making its way towards the us, prompting the authorities in new york to declare a state of emergency. it's expected to hit the country's northeastern coast later on sunday, and could be the first hurricane to reach new england in thirty years. 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,
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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, 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
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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. glenn took his 16mm film camera through kandahar and helmand. he toured through villages and deserts. sometimes, hejust let the camera run. people chatter. horses gallop. foster's family kept the films in a trunk at home,
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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.
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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.
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the films capture a time when afghanistan was changing, modernising, filling with ideas. king zahir, the last afghan king, imagined a forward—looking country,
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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. 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.
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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 as thejeshn.
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it's hard to imagine now, but then kabul had money in the bank. $100 million. 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.
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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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explosion. and that's how our film—maker, glen foster, came to be there. he was an engineer
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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. 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
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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 and �*7 to start the helmand valley project. the way these guys are so self—sufficent and so... if you are working here 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.
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the american technicians didn't come to afghanistan are single men for just a few weeks as they do now. no, they brought their families, their phonographs. they brought their swimming costumes. music plays. 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.
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i went to a co—educational school. my father opened a cinema in helmand. everything seemed possible then. i remember santa claus arriving on a donkey in lashkar gah and the presents he brought.
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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, even after dark. so did the americans. we weren't afraid of each other then. adhan resounds. 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 social change.
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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 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,
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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. 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.
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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. 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
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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 president daoud khan, the saur coup d'etat. it began a generation of war and invasion — the war we are still living with today.
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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 mehtabuddin escaped too, along the road he had helped to build in the 1940s. in december 1979, soviet troops entered kabul. they broke open pul—i charkhijail.
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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. 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
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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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hello again. saturday was always going to be the slightly dodgier day of the weekend in terms of weather, and we have a lot of cloud.
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most of us saw some fairly heavy rain as well. that was the grey skies that we had in wales, for a time, with the rain coming down. a bit misty over the hills, as well. since then, the rain band has been progressing its way northwards and eastwards, and it will continue to do so over the next few hours, as well. that said, i reckon it will stay pretty wet across parts of eastern scotland, down the eastern side of england for the next few hours, with some heavy rain coming in across northern england, east midlands, east anglia. we've still got some more rain to come, as well across parts of the south east. but all the while, it will turn a little bit drier across western areas. 13—15 celsius as you start the day. there will be some mist and fog patches to watch out for. eastern scotland, probably over the pennines, eastern areas of england, as well. now, sunday morning, we'll probably have some fairly thick cloud running in across parts of east anglia, south east england, still with some patches of rain expected here. into the afternoon, the skies brighten up
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and there will be some showers. some of them quite heavy for central and eastern scotland, central and eastern england. dry with sunshine for south—west england and wales, northern ireland and western areas of scotland. then, into next week, it looks like high pressure is going to be with us, and it's going to be bringing the air from scandinavia. so no heatwave in the forecast, but it will be a pleasant spell of weather. it's going to be largely dry with some sunshine to look forward to. so that settling down process really gets under way on monday, with most of us having a dry day with some sunny spells. in the sunshine, it's august, it's going to feel warm in that sunshine with temperatures widely climbing into the low 20s, peeking around 22 celsius in glasgow, birmingham, and cardiff, as well. into tuesday's forecast, and again it's another largely fine day. you could find a view mist and fog patches for the early risers, but otherwise looking fine with spells of sunshine. the wind is coming onshore around parts of east anglia and kent, keeping temperatures here on the coastal strip probably around 19—20 celsius. the highest temperatures across western areas. 2a perhaps in glasgow. that really would feel pleasantly warm. and as we look at the forecast through the rest of the week, you can see the weather does stay dry. temperatures stay in the low 20s. there may be a tendency though
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for it to turn a bit cloudier across the north and east of scotland and eastern england towards the end of the week.
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this is bbc news. welcome if you're watching here in the uk or around the globe. i'm reged ahmad. our top stories: desperate to escape — us troops fire tear gas in kabul, to try to push back thousands attempting to flee the taliban. translation: we have a legal visa. translation: we have a legal visa- many _ translation: we have a legal visa. many people _ translation: we have a legal visa. many people coming - translation: we have a legal visa. many people coming here| visa. many people coming here do not have the right documents but we have the right visa and they will not let a three. senior taliban figures, including the group's co—founder mullah baradar are in the afghan capital for talks about establishing a new government. the former britiah prime minister tony blair has launched a scathing attack on the us decision to pull out of afghanistan.


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