After the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, thousands of Afghan families returned from abroad, or came in from the countryside, to construct urban and increasingly Westernized lives. They built homes and careers based on an influx of foreign money, expanded bureaucracies and new educational opportunities.

And they are the ones most haunted by the fear that it could all just be a bubble, doomed to pop once foreign money and Western militaries stop holding it up…

Sitting in the large house he built on a $95,000 plot of land in airy western Kabul and playing with his 5-year-old daughter, he is a member of a young Afghan generation whose eyes burn with modest aspiration for what would be by outside standards an ordinary life — access to electricity, schools for his son and daughter, rule of law, security.

“But I am quite afraid about the future at the moment,” he said. “If I got the chance, I would go now.”