This talk actually took place a few weeks ago on the 5th October but I have only just figured out how to embed videos online! The talk took place at the Frontline Club near Paddington, and the panel included Horia Mosadiq from Amnesty International, Dawood Azami from the BBC World Service, Lucy Morgan Edwards former advisor to the EU Ambassador in Kabul and Edward Girardet, freelance conflict reporter. The talk was chaired by Paddy O'Connell of BBC Radio 4. You can catch me at 16 minutes in!
While the majority of the audience and the panel agreed that conditions for women in Afghanistan had improved during the occupation, the negatives vastly outweighed the positives apparent in the country ten years on. Morgan Edwards, who has recently published a book called "The Afghan Solution" following her experience in the country, feels that the coalition squandered a 'golden opportunity' to resolve issues with the Taliban and Haqqani network, especially following the recent death of Abdul Haq.
The most of the panel stressed the critical failure of the coalition concerning the social DNA of Afghanistan, namely its tribal structure. Assuming that the generic demographic is not anything but an amalgamation of different ethnicities, localities, dialects and communities will lead to a complete misunderstanding of the country which would ultimately cause any interference to fall short. This was stressed in the documentary clip, which showed tribal elders being presented with stills of the attacks on the twin towers on September 11th, and when asked about the location depicted in the photographs their response was to guess that they were taken in Kabul.
Just as Wadah Khanfar was to tell our class the following week, the most important preparation you make as a foreign correspondent is more than a basic background to the country you are covering. A profound and diligent study into the country, its idiosyncrasies and details of its culture, history and most importantly its people, is essential to truthful and accurate journalism. Perhaps if the press revealed more about the flavour and nature of Afghanistan would real knowledge filter through to the politicians and authorities directly involved in the future of the people in this war-torn country.