Thursday, June 9, 2011

Afghanistan's wealth is hidden underground

(NPR) There's close to a $1 trillion waiting to be unearthed beneath the rocky soil of Afghanistan.

[Moreover, there are invaluable spiritual and historical Buddhist treasures waiting to be unearthed -- since this may have been the birthplace of Siddhartha, who became the Buddha, who was born in Lumbini, in Baluchistan [where Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan meet] and grew up in Kapilavastu, thought to be near the largest Buddha statues in the world prior to Taliban demolition, Bamiyan.]

The massive deposits of iron, copper, gold, and lithium [and rare earths detected by Chinese firms and crucial to the manufacture of computers, cell phones, and other advanced technology to say nothing of their burgeoning trade in heroin, a resource exploited by military forces, ours and theirs] could potentially turn the troubled nation's economy around.

"Afghanistan, with certainty I can say, in 20 years is going to be a mining country," Paul Brinkley, head of a Pentagon group called the Task Force for Business Stability Operations, tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "That is going to happen."

He sees these untapped natural resources as a means for Afghanistan to build a stronger economy.

Brinkley, who has been doing this kind of work since 2006, is stepping down from his post later this month. But he's adamant this project is only starting to scratch the surface.

"This is a resource the Afghans are beginning to understand offers them a future," he says.

Business In A War Zone
To Brinkley, Afghanistan's mineral deposits are the country's chance at having a core indigenous source of wealth. But he knows it's not as simple as just getting those minerals out of the ground.

Brinkley says that in order to properly develop the mining industry, "creation has to take place of business practices."

In the past, Afghanistan has seen lots money come into the country through illicit industries like opium production. He notes minerals can't be smuggled in the same way drugs can, so Afghans will need to engage in legal business transactions and build working relationships to make this work. More

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