• Afghanistan: What you need to know

Afghanistan: What you need to know

21 April 2013

Southbank Centre, London

A day of events devoted to the people, politics and poetry of Afghanistan.

Venue: Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, 11am - 9pm

Individual Events:

The Great Game
Whether it was the first Afghan War from 1839-1842, the Russian invasion of 1979, or the current deployment of western forces, no attempt to impose widespread political change in Afghanistan has succeeded. What makes this country so difficult to conquer or govern, and why have so few lessons been learned? Victor Sebestyen, who chronicled the Russian invasion of 1979, discusses the issues with Patrick Hennessey, author of 'Kandak', and Medea Benjamin, a leading authority on one of the major new tools of 21st-century conflict: drone warfare.

A Long Way from Home
In August 2009, Najib Afghan, a 15-year-old juice seller in Lashkar Gah's bazaar, was seriously wounded in a rocket attack that killed his brother. With the help of 'Times Afghanistan' correspondent Jerome Starkey, Najib is now the first person in his family to have visited America, the only one who can speak English and it's just possible that he will realise his dream of becoming a doctor. This is his story.

In association with Asia House.

Afghan Women
Zarghuna Kargar was born in Kabul in 1982, at which time her father was Minister for Information. When the Mujahideen came to power they fled to Pakistan for refuge. Her book 'Dear Zari: Hidden Stories from the Women of Afghanistan' gives voice to the secret lives of women across Afghanistan and allows them to tell their stories in their own words.

The View from Pakistan
Ahmed Rashid is 'Pakistan's best and bravest reporter' (Christopher Hitchens) and the author of 'Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan'. He discusses the complexities of politics in the region with novelist Kamila Shamsie, and imagines what Afghanistan will be like once the western allies have left.

The Poetry of the Taliban
Felix Kuehn has been reporting on Afghanistan for the last five years, and is an expert on the Taliban. He is the co-editor (with Alex Strick van Linschoten) of 'Poetry of the Taliban', a collection which offers an unfettered insight into the wider world-view of the Afghan Taliban, and can tell us more than any number of news reports. This event includes readings and debate.

A screening of the inspiring short film 'Skateistan' and a discussion of the work of the Kabul-based Afghan NGO of the same name which uses skateboarding as 'the hook' for engaging with young people aged five to 18.

Zeb and Haniya (separate ticket required)
A concert by the renowned Pakistani pop group started by Zebunnisa Bangash and Haniya Aslam.

'Zeb and Haniya's music is an eclectic mix of the cultures they have lived in. Their musical sensibility is rooted in the classical, regional and filmic musical and literary traditions of South Asia, with a blend of western blues and pop. Their songs have a spirit of quiet dignity, romance and rebellion' (Nasreen Rehman, musicologist).

In association with Grand Trunk Road

Tickets to this concert are £15

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Please note, 'early bird' tickets for this event are now sold out. The price for a day ticket is £15.