It’s past 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and Zarifa Ghafari is running late for work. Six days a week, she commutes from her home in Kabul to Maidan Shar, the embattled capital of Wardak province, where she serves as the youngest female mayor in the country. Her office is just 30 miles southwest of the Afghan capital. But getting there requires a drive down National Highway 1, a massive U.S.-built showpiece once hailed as “the most visible sign” of America’s commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan after decades of war. Seventeen years after its completion, the highway is a glaring symbol of America’s failures, scarred with bomb-blast craters that snarl traffic and under constant attack from a resurgent Taliban. “Every time I leave home I’m thinking this trip might be the last one,” says Ghafari. “This dangerous road could decide my fate.” On the outskirts of Kabul, we detour around a bridge that recently collapsed. The asphalt starts to fall apart, and four lanefuls of traffic are soon jockeying for position on what’s left of the two-lane highway. Ghafari’s bulletproof SUV lurches to an abrupt halt, boxed in by incoming trucks on one side and impatient southbound cars on the other:… Read full this story
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