On Friday, November 4, 2016, the South Asia Center hosted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Chief Adviser Dr. M Humayon Qayoumi for a discussion on administering reform in Afghanistan. Following the introductory remarks from Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy, the Director of the South Asia Center, Dr. Frederick Starr, the Founding Chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, moderated a conversation with Dr. Qayoumi on the practical steps Afghanistan has made towards instituting vocational training for Afghan youth to tackle unemployment, developing major cities beside Kabul to diversify Afghanistan’s economy, and reversing the brain drain in the country by attracting Afghans with economic opportunity. 

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On April 18, the South Asia Center’s Afghanistan Rising Initiative hosted Kimberley Motley for a conversation about her experiences as an international litigator in Afghanistan and around the world, as well as her advocacy for rule of law and human rights worldwide. In her remarks, she emphasized how the rule of law means little if the role of law is not promoted in societies where the criminal justice system is weak or faces deep cultural roadblocks. She spoke candidly about her experiences as a litigator in Afghanistan’s courts, how she works from within the judicial system in place, and her commitment to improving legal representation for marginalized populations worldwide. She underscored her belief that the problems facing Afghanistan and the many countries she has worked in are not localized problems, but a problem for all of us.  

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On March 31, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center hosted First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Rula Ghani for a public and on the record conversation about the progress made under the Ghani Presidency, and the challenges that remain for Afghanistan.

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On October 20th, the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center hosted a discussion with the Special Representative of the European Union Ambassador Franz-Michel Mellbin. With a fresh view from the ground in Kabul, Ambassador Mellbin discussed the slow, but consistent progress that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have made, and argued that contrary to the conventional wisdom, the recent events in Kunduz are more a reflection of political failure rather than of ANSF weakness. He underlined that the upcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw and Donor Conference in Brussels are significant events during which supporting countries can reconfirm their commitment for Afghanistan. Mellbin noted that it remains to be seen whether the approach by the West to "float the state" is sustainable.

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On October 16th, the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center hosted a discussion with Shuja Nawaz, Distinguished Fellow at the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, and Vali Nasr, the Dean of John Hopkins Universality School of Advance International Studies. The panel, which was moderated by Ambassador James Cunningham, former Ambassador to Afghanistan and Senior Fellow and Khalilzad Chair, South Asia Center, touched upon the many facets of the Central and South Asia regions. The panel applauded President Obama's recent announcement on maintaining a presence in Afghanistan as a significant step toward building confidence in the future of the Ghani government and the Afghan state.

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The Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, in collaboration with the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, hosted a discussion with His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in New York City on September 30. One year into the National Unity Government, Dr. Abdullah reflected on the progress that has been made and thanked the international community for their continued support in helping forge the way for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

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On June 11, 2015 Paul Ross, Mission Chief for Afghanistan, International Monetary Fund (IMF) spoke with South Asia Center Senior Fellow and Khalilzad Chair Ambassador James B. Cunningham about the IMF's involvement in Afghanistan and its efforts to help revitalize the Afghan economy.

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On March 25, the Atlantic Council and the United States Institute of Peace co-hosted Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani for a conversation on the future of Afghanistan and US engagement in the country. President Ghani provided an optimistic outlook, highlighting the prospects of peace with the Taliban and improved regional connectivity. President Ghani visited DC in late March. 

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As Afghanistan undergoes a critical stage of its political transition, Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins visited the Atlantic Council on July 11 to provide an off-the-record analysis of the current impasse over the country's election results. The dispute over the results between the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, stems from Abdullah's accusation that Ghani collaborated with incumbent President Hamid Karzai and and the Independent Electoral Commission to rig the election against him. The controversy threatens to destabilize Afghanistan at a critical time when NATO and ISAF forces are entering the final phase of their withdrawal from the country and Afghans are expected to take full responsibility for their own security and governance. Not only are the developments of the coming weeks and months expected to have a decisive impact on Afghanistan's political future, but they could also have significant ramifications for US policy there.

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Zalmay Khalilzad, David Sedney Analyze Hopes for Resolving a Dangerous Dispute


This weekend's visit
to Afghanistan by Secretary of State John Kerry will be a critical opportunity to defuse the dispute over Afghanistan's presidential election that threatens the country's stability, two former US top officials said. Kerry is to travel to Kabul as presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani dispute the still-incomplete results of last week's voting – a crisis that if left unresolved could lead to ethnic splintering and civil war, according to former diplomats Zalmay Khalilzad and David Sedney.

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