Operation Badr, the Taliban offensive this spring, is causing mayhem all over the country. One of the key areas, though, for both insurgents and ISAF/GIRoA, is the Khost-Gardez Road. Riddled with cost-overruns, corruption, and delays, the road was at one time the centerpiece of reconstruction efforts by the U.S. government in Southeastern Afghanistan. The New York Times ran a piece by Alissa Rubin and James Risen earlier this month that spoke to the corruption endemic in such a large, and ill-planned, development effort. And the insurgents have taken note as well, doing what they can to halt progress on the road (BBC), killing 35 roadworkers and injuring a score. ISAF will probably finish the road, but at what cost? And how long will it be before average Afghans and government officials can no longer travel the road in safety? With the war changing as much as it has, and a withdrawal in view, it seems almost niave to pursue such a project.
The end of the war is in sight, whether it be in 2014 or sooner. Large infrastructure projects funded by ISAF, I expect, will go the way of the dodo, and the focus will be on creating a stable security framework to take over when ISAF leaves. Sadly, the cost of projects like the KG Road in lives and money has grown exponentially, and at the end of the day (2014), it’s unclear who will be around to enjoy the road. The KG Road project, in the current context, seems like a relic of a more hopeful era. It’s a depressing thought.