The potentially lucrative task of exploiting Afghanistan's immense mineral wealth – estimated to be worth around £2trn, according to the Kabul government – is only in the early stages. But already China and India in particular are doing deals and beginning work. Facilities already established are being protected by local army and police, part of whose funding, and most of whose training, has been a US/UK responsibility.
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Afghanistan – where the US and Britain have expended more than 2,100 lives and £302bn – is about to start paying a dividend. But it won't be going to the countries which have made this considerable sacrifice. The contracts to open up Afghanistan's mineral and fossil-fuel wealth, and to build the railways that will transport them out of the country, are being won or pursued by China, India, Iran, and Russia.
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