FIRST WEDNESDAY Afghanistan Then and Now

Talk Wednesday 2nd September, 2009

After eight years in Afghanistan, what has been achieved by American and British presence?

The first round of elections in Afghanistan were tainted by violence and intimidation   and cries of foul play from were heard even before voting was over.

The law passed by president Hamid Karzai shortly before the 20 August elections allowing a man to starve his wife if she refuses sex and the problems encountered by women voters appeared to make a mockery of claims that invasion would liberate women and continued fighting with the Taleban raised questions about how achievable the ambition of overcoming the terrorist threat can be.

What does the election tell us about the state of play in Afghanistan? Were they merely a show for the West and to build the perception of stability and democracy?

Or were they an important marker in the path towards stability and an indication that there is a different way of doing politics that could work?

Join us for the first of the First Wednesdays looking at what has been achieved in Afghanistan with: Havana Marking, director of the acclaimed Afghan Star, a documentary exploring the cultural phenomenon of the Pop Idol style TV series which it followed from auditions to the final in Kabul; Emal Paserly, multi media editor, BBC World Service Persian-Pashto section; Pia Heikkila, journalist who recently returned from Afghanistan where she was filming for Guardian Films and Sky News; Sam Kiley, award-winning journalist whose book on Afghanistan Desperate Glory is published on 7 September.