Afghan minister sees hope in travels

Mohammed Esan Zia may be the most popular politician in Afghanistan. He certainly is the most well-travelled.

Mr. Zia has been the Minister for Rural Rehabilitation and Development since 2006. In that role the soft-spoken development expert has made about 100 trips to 34 of this country's 38 far-flung provinces. This has been no small feat, considering that the east and the south are in a state of war and that most of the country is inaccessible except by helicopter and donkey.

Mr. Zia, who has a master's degree in war recovery studies from Britain's York University, has no time for those learned publications that have recently predicted that the Taliban are winning the insurgency.

"The reason I travel so much is so that I can come face-to-face with the hope and determination of our people," he said during an hour-long discussion in his office. "They want to play a role in the development of our villages, which constitute our identity. >>Read more