Laura Bush Meets With Afghanistan's First Woman Governor

What a pity it is that this story is not getting more attention…

Laura Bush traveled to Bamiyan Province in Afghanistan today to meet with Habiba Sarabi.
Habiba is the first woman appointed governor of any Afghan province.

Just 7 years ago, a few miles from where Laura Bush spoke today, the Taliban bombed the historic Bamyan Buddhas. The Buddha statues were intentionally dynamited and destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were “idols” which are forbidden under Sharia law.
And, just 9 years ago the Taliban was executing women in stadiums.

U.S. first lady Laura Bush (3rd L) visits a police training academy during a surprise visit to Bamiyan, Afghanistan, with Afghanistan’s first woman provincial mayor of Bamiyan Province Habiba Sarab (2nd L), June 8, 2008. First lady Laura Bush made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Sunday with an appeal to the international community not to abandon the war-torn country in the face of resurgent Taliban violence. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)

On her third visit to the country, the first lady flew into Kabul before boarding a helicopter for a 50-minute flight to Bamiyan province, the farthest she has traveled from Afghanistan’s largest city.

The helicopter landed in a dusty field at a provincial reconstruction team compound operated by New Zealand. From there she could see the empty niches in a cliffside where two giant Buddha statues once stood.

They were carved into the sandstone cliffs more than 2,000 years ago. The Taliban, which considered the statues idolatrous and anti-Muslim, demolished the treasures in March 2001, causing an international outcry. The repressive Taliban ruled Afghanistan until the U.S. invaded after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Bush’s visit came ahead of a conference Thursday in Paris where the U.S. hopes other countries will pledge billions of dollars to help Afghanistan. She intends to address the conference.

“The people of Afghanistan don’t want to go back and live like that,” Bush told reporters during the nearly 14-hour flight to Kabul. “They know what it was like. The international community can’t drop Afghanistan now, at this very crucial time.”

President Bush, in an interview in Washington on Friday with RAI TV of Italy, said bluntly, “Afghanistan is broke.”

Years after George and Laura Bush leave the White House the people of Bamiyan Province will remember who set them free from the brutal Taliban.

Local residents gather along a road to see U.S. first lady Laura Bush during a ribbon cutting ceremony of the Bazaar Road Project in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 8, 2008. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)


US First Lady Laura Bush poses with local children in Bamiyan Province of Afghanistan on June 8, 2008. Bush flew into Afghanistan on an unannounced visit to meet President Hamid Karzai and visit development projects in an affirmation of support for the troubled nation. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

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