Sun, Oct 13, 2013 - Page 5 News List

FEATURE: Birthplace of the Taliban turned into elite suburbs

AFP, KANDAHAR, Afghanistan

The feud halted construction as workers and suppliers were not paid, and it split the Karzai family until the president imposed a compromise deal earlier this year.

With houses in Aino Mena ranging in price from US$25,000 to more than US$600,000 — astronomical sums in impoverished southern Afghanistan — many homeowners are accused of profiting from the 12 year war or from the region’s global opium industry.

Many residents such as Sharifullah admit their businesses rely on contracts from the US-led NATO military campaign, and they worry the economy will be badly hit as foreign forces withdraw by the end of next year.

“With the US leaving, it will affect us a lot,” said Sharifullah, the owner of a transport and logistics company that works for the NATO coalition. “We fled from Uruzgan province nine years ago and we like it here. It is a complete change of life.”

Sharifullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, maintains tidy rose beds surrounding a circular swimming pool and keeps birds in an aviary beside his high-walled property.

Violence in Kandahar has fallen sharply over recent months, but Aino Mena has not been immune to attack, with two bombs killing nine people in May.

Such setbacks have not put off locals such as Qudratullah, 22, whose father is building a Japanese-inspired house costing US$800,000.

“It is safe here, and we are optimistic,” he said.

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