BBC Bothered by Capitalism in Afghan Capital
Reporter details the dangers of free market economics because landowners make a profit.
Its a challenge to paint peace and
prosperity in a bad light, but its a challenge that the BBC and
reporter Tom Coghlan were willing to embrace. Coghlans April 14,
2005 story on Afghanistans capital Kabul described a city under
threat from a new danger: the free market economics of Kabul's
post-war boom now seem a more potent enemy than rockets and bombs.
The story focused on the horrors of a housing boom that has seen the price of real estate soar to levels comparable with Western cities. Rather than celebrate this influx of wealth and opportunity to the formerly war-torn nation, Coghlan dwelled on how a local charity is being forced to moved. Afghanistan's internationally renowned charity for street children, Aschiana, survived the Afghan wars of the 1990s and the Taleban era.
According to the article, the owner of land sold the land, worth around $5 million, so a five-star hotel could be built on the site.
The article went on to paint a glowing picture of the charity that suddenly found itself homeless. Though the story demonized a small class of wealthy Afghan entrepreneurs who were some of the prime beneficiaries of the housing boom, Coghlan never bothered to interview any of them. In fact, he didnt even get the property owners side of the story and never mentioned how many jobs have been created by the boom and how many people and families would benefit from the construction and operation of the hotel.
The whole problem was described as the fault of free markets and a landowner who dared to sell land for $5 million when he was only making $18,000 a year on it.
The article concluded with a comment from Engineer Mohammed Yousef, the charitys founder, who complained about how the international community was helping his nation. In reality, Afghanistan is showing itself to be both a victory for democracy and free markets. Unfortunately, the BBCs one-sided story didnt see notice.