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Doubly Painful Defections

Would-be Olympian Mahbooba Ahadyar (left, with trainer) dropped out of sight weeks before the games in Beijing.
AP has a poignant feature on the growing ranks of successful, high-profile Afghans who've defected during foreign trips. The list includes a long-time TV host, junior soccer stars and a trainer, the country's lone female (would-be) Olympic athlete, even a presidential media aide.

It's an ominous development in a country whose rolls of refugees began returning en masse only a few years ago.

But beyond the immediate loss of young talent, the story alludes to a less conspicuous but broader cost to Afghan society:

Defections overseas make some institutions hesitant to sponsor Afghans to go on foreign trips.

It's the last thing a country so desperately in need of training and other transfers of knowledge wants to hear as it tries to catch up after three decades of war.

-- Andy Heil

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