A travel along the artery that connects the nation’s two largest cities, Kabul and Kandahar the story narrates the scars of the war and the challenges ahead.
Highway 1 is a ring road that connect the main cities of Afghanistan. Largely rebuilt after 2001 with American funding at a cost of at least $300 million, the highway was intended to win the hearts and minds of Afghans and bolster the nation’s economy, instead, it became a war zone and a symbol of American failure. Control of this main thoroughfare was vital and the signs of the battles are still visible around it. Taliban fighters are now Afghanistan’s rulers again, the Americans have left but millions of Afghans are struggling to survive in the economic crisis that ensued.
The road from Kabul to Kandahar flows through five provinces: Kabul, Wardak, Ghazni, Zabul and Kandahar. Along the road we meet with groups of Taliban who used to plant roadside bombs or who now control former American bases. We meet with civilians injured by the war and impoverished but the new economic crisis. We meet with the Hazara community, historically persecuted by the Taliban and hear their concerns about the future and we meet with school teachers that are struggling to defend the rights for female students to keep attending schools.
Finally, in Kandahar we visit the failed projects built by the Americans and the hospital where dozens of malnourished children are trying to survive.