border review | 23 July 2011

Mining and heritage in Afghanistan

Yesterday, General Mirza Aslam Beg, a former Chief of Staff of Pakistan’s army, in Daily Times:

China now stands solidly behind Afghanistan to protect the civilisational heritage so ruthlessly trampled by foreign invaders.

No details on what that means. But I wonder if he allures to that conflict of interest between China Metallurgical Group (MCC) and archeologists over the remains of a 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery at the site of a prospective copper mine. Back in November 2011, Heidi Vogt wrote a piece on the topic for the Huffington Post and The Washington Post:

China Metallurgical Group, or MCC, which is backed by the Chinese government, wanted to start building the mine by the end of 2011. But under an informal understanding with the Kabul government, it has given archaeologists three years for a salvage excavation […] Marquis [a French archeologist and advisor] said MCC has been cooperative and has helped the archaeologists, hauling dirt away and asking what more needs to be done.

Zakir, the Afghan archaeologist, laughs. “Yes, they are very helpful. They want to help so that we can finish quickly. They want us gone.”