1:30 PM BST
Afghanistan: The Unravelling
Shazia Haya Ahmadzai, Saad Mohseni, Ambassador Gautam Mukhopadhaya and Rory Stewart in conversation with William Dalrymple
This free event takes place in the British Library Theatre and will be simultaneously live streamed on the British Library platform. Tickets may be booked either to attend in person, or to watch on our platform (online) either live or within 48 hours on catch up. In person ticket bookers will also be sent a bonus link to the online event. Viewing links will be sent out shortly before the event.
Following the stunning collapse of Kabul this panel explores different aspects of the unravelling, searching for signals and new realities as they examine the fault lines, the historical context, and the way forward.
The event is part of JLF London 2021, the London edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival, in Rajasthan, India. On Saturday 18 September the session Afghanistan: The Unravelling will be followed in the British Library Theatre by The Essential Elif Shafak (separate ticket required). There will then be a packed weekend on 24-26 September of free online conversations featuring leading writers and speakers from around the world.
Shazia Haya Ahmadzai is an Afghan journalist who has only just emerged from quarantine following her dramatic escape from Kabul. She pursued her career in journalism against the wishes of her father, uncles and brothers, saying “I never gave up fighting for my human rights in my own family, and in society!” She has reported for the BBC’s Pashto service, and presented a ‘hard talk’ television show, Open Jirga, from Kandahar in the Taliban heartland, earlier this year. Her last piece of journalism before being forced to flee her country was published in Chatham House’s The World Today magazine. It ends with the words: Afghan women hope that the world will not abandon and forget them again. Unbelievably, it seems, this is exactly where we appear to be heading.
Rory Stewart is a Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute, Yale University. He was the UK Secretary of State for International Development, and also served as Minister of the environment, Minister of State for development policy in the Middle East and Asia, and Minister of State for Justice. Earlier in his career, he served as an infantry officer and as a diplomat. He founded and ran the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Afghanistan. Stewart has also written four books, The Places in Between, Occupational Hazards or The Prince of the Marshes, Can Intervention Work? and The Marches.
William Dalrymple is the bestselling author of In Xanadu, City of Djinns, From the Holy Mountain, Age of Kali, White Mughals, The Last Mughal, Nine Lives, Return of a King and Kohinoor. He has won the Wolfson Prize for History, the Hemingway, the Kapuscinski and the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize. He has also been awarded the Arthur Ross Bronze Medal of the US Council on Foreign Relations and the President's Medal by the British Academy. His most recent books are The Company Quartet, The Anarchy, and Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company. Dalrymple is one of the founders and a co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Saad Mohseni is co-founder and chairman of MOBY Group, one of the fastest growing media companies in South and Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He launched his first network in Afghanistan in 2002, and his awards include TIME’s 2011 ranking of “100 most influential people in the world”, Foreign Policy’s 2013 “100 Global Thinkers” and the Business Insider’s 2016 “100 Creators List”. The work his networks have done in Afghanistan for defending women’s rights earned him a place in the BBC’s 2015 ranking of the “10 Men Globally Championing Gender Equality”. Mohseni serves on the Advisory Board of the International Crisis Group and is a member of the International Advisor Council for the Middle East Institute (MEI).
Ambassador Gautam Mukhopadhaya served in the Ministries of External Affairs and Defence of India, and as India’s Ambassador to Syria, Afghanistan, where he also re-opened the Indian Embassy in Kabul after the ousting of the Taliban in November 2001. He graduated from the National Defence College of India and worked on Afghanistan as a Visiting Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC. He is currently Senior Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.
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