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Afghanistan Post 2014: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Way Forward

Nasir Ahmad Andisha is the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and the Republic of Fiji. On the night of Thursday, September 19th at 7pm Ambassador Andisha brought together over 45 Indiana University students and faculty to his talk entitled “Afghanistan Post 2014: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Way Forward”.

 In addition to his diplomatic post, Ambassador Andisha is currently working on his doctoral dissertation about Afghanistan’s policy of neutrality at Australia National University. Prior to his position as ambassador, Nasir Ahmad Andisha served as the Director General of the Fifth Political Division from 2009 – 2011 at the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2008 he worked as a consultant at the Energy Charter Secretariat in Brussels. Ambassador Andisha was also a Fulbright Scholar at the George W. Bush School at Texas A&M University where he earned a Masters in International Affairs. More information about Ambassador Andisha’s impressive background can be found here: http://iu.edu/~panasia/

The talk began with an introduction by Nazrif Shahrani, a professor in the departments of Anthropology, Central Eurasian Studies, and Near Eastern Languages and Culture. Professor Shahrani is also a native of Afghanistan with extensive research in the area.  In this talk, Ambassador Andisha drew upon diplomatic experience as well as his doctoral research to speak about the economic and political challenges and trajectories Afghanistan currently faces. Ambassador Andisha highlighted different ways forward, the idea of neutrality for Afghanistan, and various regional dynamics.

Ambassador Andisha mentioned the benefits of U.S. military presence citing statistics that education in Afghanistan had expanded from 1 million children in 2001 to 8 million children in 2012, with a higher ratio of female students. He further stressed that educated Afghan women are essential for a modern Afghanistan as, “The Taliban fear the 69 women in parliament more than Marines because those women won’t stop fighting for their rights.” The ambassador also noted that life expectancy has risen from 45 years in 2001 to 63 years in 2012. The ambassador went on to explain that Afghan society consisted of three generations; the first being the “Revolution Generation”, the second as “The Generation of Bridge makers”, and the third as the “Educated Generation”.  He emphasized that the bridge makers were essential in transitioning Afghan society from one of “old warriors” to one with more educational opportunities.  

Ambassador Andisha also articulated that instability stems from regional power struggles on Afghan soil and that a policy of neutrality would be the best option for the country. The ambassador commented that Afghanistan, throughout history, has absorbed the impact of its neighbors- most notoriously during the ‘Great Game’ era.  Acting as a buffer state has given Afghanistan a tendency to be neutral, however, Ambassador Andisha was quick to add that a state must be able to enforce its neutrality and so continued military ties with the US are necessary.

Following his presentation, the ambassador hosted a question and answer session from the audience; handling controversial topics such as Afghanistan’s relationship with Iran, comparisons of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the question of terrorist groups remaining in the country.

This event was sponsored by The Center on American and Global Security as well as the ANU-IU Pan Asia Institute.