Kite industry thriving in Afghanistan

Kabul, November 12, 2006 (NDTV) - Five years after the fall of the Taliban, the kite industry - banned under the hardline regime - is once again flourishing in Afghanistan.

Kite flying has become a national pastime, especially in the capital Kabul.

Made from paper and thin wooden struts, they have become a symbol of change.

The Taliban believed activities such as kite flying distracted youngsters from studying the Islamic holy book, the Quran, but now the hobby is once again booming.

Twelve-year-old Abbas has been saving his pennies for weeks to buy a new kite.

"I love flying kites, especially on Fridays when I have nothing to do. I can fly kites and enjoy myself. It's my hobby," he said.

Symbol of change

Many shops sell the reels, line and other cheap paraphernalia needed for this simple sport.

Kabul's top kite maker is Noor Agha. With exquisite skill and care, he makes as many as 30 kites in a day.

He had to go underground to make his kites in the Taliban days, but now his work can be sold openly.

"Kabul has changed a lot compared with how it was in the Taliban time. During their regime, if a child was even caught flying a (cheap) plastic kite, his father would be thrown in jail," he said.

"But fortunately now, we live like kings. We can do whatever we want. We can fly kites wherever we want. We can enjoy our hobbies."

The popular book The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini has made Kabul's kites famous worldwide and Noor Agha's creations now sell internationally, sometimes for many hundreds of dollars each. (AP)