The Channel 4 News crew wrap up a week of live broadcast from Afghanistan with this report on doing business in Afghanistan. The team interviews one of the country’s emerging tycoons Azmarai Kamgar, the owner of Kam Air and a handful of other enterprises. Mr. Kamgar is forthright in saying that regardless of who is in power (the Communists, the Mujahideen, Taliban, Karzai, or “someone else tomorrow” -he leaves it open) he is ready to deal with them and not betroth himself too loyally to any particular ideology. In the best tradition of successful businessmen everywhere, he complains about government and accuses it of trying to “destroy” the business community in Afghanistan. With his money he plans to break into the energy sector -but only after he builds himself a “Neverland” in Mazar-i Sharif. (Read Alex Thomson’s blog entry The Easyjet of Afghanistan.)
Also in the report we hear some hair-raising premonitions from former Minister of Planning and current MP Mr. Ramazan Bashardost about a secretive “mafia” that runs Afghanistan from “behind closed doors,” and whose members include top government officials and a few international players. Although Mr. Bashardost is not taken too seriously in Afghanistan these days, all the same with the levels of corruption as rampant as it is in Afghanistan, he can only be right. What I am uncertain about is whether the “mafia” that he speaks of real or imaginary/metaphorical. He seems to use the word literally, and that is no cause for comfort. Separately, I have observed disturbing signs elsewhere that indicate the existence of if not an outright mafia, at least an implicit “understanding” between various vested business interests, none of which coincide too closely with the public’s interest in Afghanistan. I shall purposefully remain vague for now.
(To see videos of the week’s Channel 4 reporting from Afghanistan and to read their news blog visit News from Afghanistan.)